Former fire HQ on Albert Embankment: appeal lodged against planning refusal
The London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority has announced that, together with development partner Native Land, it will lodge an appeal against Lambeth Council's decision to turn down plans for a redevelopment of its Albert Embankment premises.
Last December Lambeth councillors voted to refuse a planning application by Native Land for the Florian Place mixed use development which would include more than 250 homes as well as the retention of Lambeth fire station.
Members of the council's planning applications committee vetoed the plans on the grounds of harm to the listed building, the impact on neighbouring residents in Whitgift House, the mass and scale of the development and the lack of affordable housing contrary to borough policy.
"After detailed consideration we have concluded with Native Land that we would like to proceed with an appeal against the planning application refusal for 8 Albert Embankment," says London Fire Brigade assistant commissioner Andy Hickmott.
"There is a genuine belief, by both London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) and Native Land, that these proposals represent an excellent opportunity to redevelop the site for the benefit of local residents, businesses and tax payers.
"Getting the go-ahead will also allow LFEPA to invest money from its sale back into the fire service."
In February the former LFEPA chairman Brian Coleman described the council's decision to veto the plans as "irresponsible" and "highly irregular".
When the case comes before a planning inspector the developer's appeal will be hotly contested by local campaigners.
Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey told the London SE1 website: "We will fight the fire authority tooth and nail over this ridiculous scheme.
"As a publicly accountable body they have totally ignored the wishes of the local community. The developer they are in cahoots with are being greedy and involved only to make huge profits. They will not get away with this."
George Turner, a committee member of the Whitgift Estate Tenants' and Residents' Association, added: "I am shocked and disappointed that the fire authority has continued to pursue this highly speculative planning application which was rightly rejected by Lambeth Council last December.
"This application was almost universally opposed by the local community as well as by our elected representatives, English Heritage and Lambeth's planning policy officer.
"Claims from the fire authority that this development has anything to do with regeneration are complete rubbish.
"Building another gated community for foreign absentee investors which causes significant harm to a national heritage asset and overshadows the neighbouring housing estate and park is not regeneration – it is corporate vandalism.
"If the fire authority thinks that this renewed attempt to line the pockets of their development partners is going to be easy they have another think coming."
Earlier this month one LFEPA member called for the empty buildings – which have been in part occupied by squatters – to be made available to accommodate troops called in to work at the Olympics.
• Editor's note: this story was updated on 1 August to include comments from George Turner and Kate Hoey