Did anyone else receive a letter from Southwark Cathedral and an invite to see a model of the proposed demolition of All Hallows Church and the subsequent building of a five storey residential/office block plus a new house for the Canon Pastor? What did you think of it? We live behind the church and its beautiful garden and are still in shock over the proposed plans. We would welcome your views and any advice you can offer on who to write to to stop the plans materialising.
Southwark Catherdral's plan is to demolish the whole thing (the church and 50's add on) and put up a hugh and very modern glass and steel five story block of flats and offices (no affordable flats though) in its place and build a new house for the Canon Pastor. I actually like modern buildings but the area is meant to be a conservation area and the proposed block won't fit in at all, also the proposed height of it will block out light from all the flats behind it and the small view we currently enjoy. Is there something about being a Canon Pastor that renders them unable to live in second-hand houses or flats for that matter?
The Church Commisoners are short of money and are determined to increase the return they get from their assets.
They own a lot of property in SE1 so you should find that the local MP and local Councillors are well up to speed on Church Commissioner issues. Indeed Simon Hughes is (or was) LibDem spokesman on church affairs.
There are different possible approaches. Either you can use elected representatives, to intercede on your behalf. Or you can get organised and make a lot of noise, sufficient to pursuade first the planning department that they need to tread carefully. Or pursuade the Church Commissioners/Developers that local opposition is such that this scheme is going to be more trouble than it is worth.
First steps might include speaking to neighbours to confirm that others share your concerns. Then letters to both the church and local elected representaticves, copied to the Southwark Conservation Officer. Then perhaps a public meeting to which you invite the developers. Here it is essential to get as many people out as possible. This means that the developers do have to face questions and can see the level of concern.
In part you need to think of a Plan B. Buildings are taken down. Things change,. What is the real problem with the proposals. Is it the loss of the garden, the scale, the design, the use?
If you can be clear - for example you don't want to see any loss of green in a very densly populated area, particularly if there is public access to the garden. Or you don't want to lose the historic bits, you may well be able to get Southwark to pursuade the developers to scale down their ambitions. However it is important to get as much visible support as you can. People are votes, and so a negotiable currency to local politicians.
This is the first time I have felt the need to object to anything so I am a little lost. Your advice will be most useful. Any more advice or views from any one else would also be most welcome. Is it easy to find contact addresses for Simon Hughes and the Southwark Conservation Officer? I have no idea where to look - I guess I can search the internet.
Southwark website will give you your ward councillor. Simon Hughes may also be on there. They should also have a contact for the Southwark Conservation Officer.
My own background is hearing of plans to build a private tennis centre on the Church Commission owned Archbishops Park five years ago. It was hard work, and took about three years, including questions in Parliament and more. But I had decided that the proposals had to be stopped, and we got a lease.
Longer term members of the forum will know that I have used James' space to vent various frustrations. Which is why most TLMJJ suggestions for socials start with 'Sarah needs a drink'.
I had never done anything like this before. Indeed - hangs her head in shame - I had never voted. The initial public meeting was more scarey than my wedding day. And I have found that putting my head above the parapet and fighting for something I believed in, has been alternatively hugely frustrating and very rewarding. I have met some really good people, have learnt a lot and feel genuinely connected to the area I am raising my children in. But it has not been easy.
Given it is one building replacing another it should not be as complex. But also perhaps less clear cut. There are lots of people on the forum who know huge amounts about planning, development and conservation, and I am happy to bow to their greater wisdom. But if you want some tips on mobilising local concern, I am happy to share some of my experience. Just PM me.
That said we now have a lease and the CC are very supportive. The story is that they had some really bad property investments in the 80's and now need money for Vicars' pensions. Even more acute as takings from the collection plate will have dwindled to practically nothing.
Picking up a thread from Sarah's comments, it is useful to ask yourself what is the nature of your objection. 'Change' of itself isn't a valid reason for an objection because resisting change is part of the human condition.
Equally, the fact that the view from your window or garden may change as a result of a development isn't, of itself, a valid objection. No-one 'owns' the view from their window. If this was the case then the first windows to cover 360degrees in any landscape would control everything else.
You say that the development is within or adjacent to a Conservation Area so, firstly, get a copy of the Conservation Area designation document and find out what specifically the designation of the CA was intended to protect. Does the development in question conflict with those objectives?
Are there any listed (ie Nationally grade 1 or 2) buildings nearby and would their 'setting' be significantly altered by the proposal?
You describe the development as 'huge' but you need to quantify that and measure it against current expectations of higher densities in inner urban settings.
What facilities are being removed by the development, what reprovision is being made, what additional facilities are being proposed. What additional use is being gained under the proposal.
Once you have arrived at some reasoned response to the application and, if you believe that the proposal is too big or the wrong type of development or if you think that the proposal is poor and could be done better, thats when you can do something really interesting.
Forget about opposition. Its boring and way too predictable. Find yourself a sympathetic architect, present your assessment and commission the application that you think should be made. You are quite entitled to make an application even if you don't own the buildings and/or land to which the subject of the application.
This is a far more creative response to the challenge of development and offers a real threat to the first application. If your approach find favour with the planners they might approve your application and reject the other. If you and/or your architect organise the design in such a way that it can be copyright (Piano/Shard of Glass) then the owner/developer might have to buy into your application.
Thanks Niall - you have certainly given me much needed advice. I do agree that "Change" itself is not a valid reason to object to the proposed building. Actually I am in favour of change as I am quite passionate about history and without changes there would not be much history.
The church is actually within a conservation area so I shall find out more about what the paper on the area says. I also believe the Winchester Cottages opposite the church are graded and listed - I shall find out about that too. Thanks for the suggestion.
I do realise that no-one owns a view but this proposed building will be so much higher than the current building and also much much closer to our homes. The block in which my home is situated is already blocked from natural light on three sides by five storeys and the height of the new building will obliterate light from that side too.
Arn't architect s expensive - I am not exactly flush!
I suspect that I might soon be joining the "sarah needs a drink" group.
The idea of proposition rather than opposition is quite radical in our curiously limited democracy but its oh so much more interesting. It shows that you are willing to put your effort where your mouth is and you are also willing to generate concrete proposals which gives the planning process something to grapple with.
On the light issue, rights to light are hugely misunderstood and they are defined by legislation. One interpretation is an angle 27degrees from the vertical rising from your window. Anything that cuts that angle is 'taking your light'. But when you measure that angle, it is quite steep and offers the other party a lot of scope.
Also, if you owned that land and/or building, you would have exactly the same rights to benefit from your asset. That is one of the cornerstones of our capitalism and so whats sauce for the goose etc.
Yes the idea of putting a proposal together is pretty daunting but if the current proposal really is bad then another architect might take the project on as a speculative venture. They could get some business from it, certainly some very positive PR.
I know some people who have gone down the proposition route and ended up buying the land and doing the development. Stranger things have happened.
By the way of an interesting coincidence - I spent a few evenings searching the internet for information about All Hallows Southwark. A few years back I bought a stained glass drawing for a window to be placed centre light in All Hallows Southwark. The drawing was supposed come from Powell and Son glassworks , circa 1920. It's a lovely design with an angel standing on a column with leaves and arches worked in. I'm travel from Canada to London next month and was hoping I could go in the church and see the window . But having found out a little more, I imagine the window was put up in the 20's and destroyed when the church was damaged during the war.??
Does this ring a bell with anyone? It would be interesting if someone had a photo of the interior which might show the window.
What is the park around the building like? Is it looked after by the city?
If people would like to see a photo of the stained glass drawing I'll try and get one on the net over the next few days.