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Founders Place Development - Appeal

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Monday 11 December 2006 10.32am
I am not so sure about the right to light of the residents of these prospective flats. Rights to light are acquired by 'anyone who has had uninterrupted use of something over someone else's land for 20 years without consent, openly and without threat, and without interruption of more than a year.' This situation would not and could not apply to these new flats.

Even if it did, the minimum standard is equivalent to the light from one candle, one foot away and the obstruction could be seen as seasonal due to leaves falling in autumn etc.

I am sure that if there was an undertaking by the developer to pay for regular and appropriate pruning of the trees to be carried out by a nominated contractor and the residents waive their right to complain then there should be no problem.

As for developers going for the maximum planning on a site then blame the government for this througfh their policies. Yes there is a duty to maximise profits on a development but the densities of all schemes have rocketed due to policies such as 50% affordable accomodation. This only means that the developer has to build more units of smaller size in a higher block to make any money on the scheme.

It is a very inefficient way of developing. If the government simply gave the sites to housing associations to build on - rather than selling the land at inflated prices to developers and then forcing them to build the new affordable housing supply that should be the remit of the incumbent incompetents (of whichever party) -more new supply would be built and house prices for first time buyers would fall.

Finally I am sure that you could supply hundreds of examples of parks that are overlooked because surely all city parks are overlooked and this is what defines them as a park.
Monday 11 December 2006 11.22am
Tabard Park...loads of trees as i recall....paragon park, both the top of me 'ead...
Monday 11 December 2006 12.38pm
Sorry Sarah, that was me trying to be quick afore me boss saw....what i meant was as jql suggested was to give examples of parks surrounded by trees and housing! i am definitely pro conservation...i think nature should be conserved at any price...

one of the few childhood pleasures we inner city kids had was having the bombed gardens to play in....all the lovely flowers..trees that you could climb without being shouted at...i could waffle on forever...up to when my husband was taken ill, every holiday from school was spent with my family on my friends land in kent...bliss...if i had my way blackberry, apple, pear plums would be planted in parks...all the bees...hairy jacks..rosebay..bistort...shame...
Monday 11 December 2006 11.29pm
sarah2 wrote:
As a parent and with no garden this oasis of green is very important to me.

I have a friend with a garden who loves the Park for walking her dog. Many people use the Park for all sorts of reasons. It does not matter whether park users are parents, landlords, live in Walton-upon-Thames or have gardens the size of tennis courts: each has an equal claim to use the Park and to have their arguments on this forum judged on merit. Let's have less of the emotional special pleading.

sarah2 wrote:
This [the desire for more light] would be quite a strong case at any subsequent application to have the trees removed, or pruned back.

The trees are in a conservation area and have Tree Preservation Orders imposed. TPOs are not cosmetic pieces of paper that will be blown away by a few residents huffing about more light (some of the residents would probably prefer to look onto trees in any case). The argument that the trees would be at risk from a few residents is as fanciful as Sarah2's previous claim that the trees would die from sunlight reflecting off windows.

sarah2 wrote:
Planning Aid for London are helping me to find an expert who will be able to confirm this [that the trees will be at risk] and the British Standard issue.

An expert is not an expert if s/he gives an opinion merely because the client desires it. An 'expert' who has given an opinion that the client sought will not be taken seriously. Donald Weighton viewed the trial pits which were dug in March and his independent expert opinion was that he could not ‘say the trees would suffer from the underground works'. No expert has suggested otherwise. The tree issue is a dead issue so far as this planning appeal is concerned.

sarah2 wrote:
I have been told, by someone who no longer works for the Council, that this set of developers [for Founder's Place] have been a nightmare to work with

I have been told, by someone who no longer works for the Council, that Sarah2 has been a nightmare to work with. I personally found this hard to believe but more to the point: hearsay comments of this nature merely serve (a) to pollute the debate about Founder's Place and (b) to demonstrate the paucity of Sarah2's arguments.
Tuesday 12 December 2006 9.45am

Fred, I will respond to you first.

I am sure I was a nightmare for many people within Lambeth. About five years ago I am told that Lambeth Council apparantly decided it did not want to renew the lease on the park, even though the Church Commissioners offered one. They wanted to save the maintenance money. It took a committment of the full Council to clarify policy to officers. Equally, with a local Councillor, I took the Lambeth decision to auction off the park keepers house to the Environment Scrutiny Committee. The sale was halted three days before the auction. I have no doubt that if I was leading the Friends group we would be talking about spending the community gain money on a cafe rather than a football pitch. I got Lambeth to hire an architect to look at two sites (the old toilet block was one) and to pay for a feasibility study. A cafe is feasible, and it is the top user priority. But who would want to be known as a nightmare! On the lease and the lodge I know that the current crop of Lambeth officers support the line I took. Indeed they need the lodge so badly that it is no longer available for a cafe.

The problem as I understand it with the developers is that they seem to expect special treatment because they are "the hospital" although the overall benefit is no more and maybe less than on a commercial scheme. My understanding is that their approach has been very political, rather than pragmatic, leaving a lot of people iwhtin and without the Council feeling bruised.

On the trees. I am sure I have responded to you before. There are two issues. Whether the trees can survive the construction phase and their long term sustainability. The problem with the first set of proposals was that they would not survive the construction phase. Given the south facing flats also had balcomies it was pretty obvoius that the developers envisaged the trees going. The test pits Don oversaw were to look to see if there were tap roots which would be hurt by the excavation of the underground parking. Lambeth's tree officer has confirmed that he now believes that the trees will survive the construction.

But whether they can survive in the longer term is the problem. Planning policy says that this development has to be sympathetic to the setting of the park. This design builds in conflict between residents desire for light, and the long term survival of the trees. Because their large south facing windows open directly into the crowns of these trees.

You say
whether park users are parents, landlords, live in Walton-upon-Thames or have gardens the size of tennis courts: each has an equal claim to use the Park and to have their arguments on this forum judged on merit.

My argument is that many local residents have little access to green and calm, and it is something many people prize. I have no particular argument with people living in Walton on Thames. However are you suggesting that people living in Walton on Thames prefer Archbishops to have a wall or flats at its northern end, rather than mature trees. If so there is an issue. 95% of residents in this area do not have gardens. It is not speacial pleading, but I think local concerns do need to be taken on board.
Tuesday 12 December 2006 10.20am
sarah2, I do admire the way you have conducted yourself through the planning process, and on this thread !

I have no idea whether your detractors are in the pay of the developers, no idea at all. But your measured tone and their immoderate attacks makes me wonder about their motivations.

And when recent joiners have a single business to support, it also makes me question their motivation.

I have to say i love it when James says... no wonder you support XYZ business, your IP address says you work there! How we laugh.
Tuesday 12 December 2006 10.35am
Sorry about the two posts in a row, but JQLs quite serious points should also be addressed.

First I should thank him. After the first disasterous planning meeting I met with the Lambeth Tree Officer, I think at a local Councillors suggestion, to see if we could find a way to address community concerns. (With the assumption that many local people wanted to see the avenue of trees in the park survive into the longer term.)

The big problem was the likely conflict between the future resident desire for light (and views) and the fact that the dense foliage of the trees in front of the windows would act like blackout curtains through most of the summer. (Though a further concern is the change in micro-climate.)

My sense was that if people knew before buying that the trees were there to stay, they would have no case to ask for the trees to be cut down. This suggestion of a clause in the lease was put to the developers by the second Planning Application Committee. Other suggestions were taken up but this one seems to have been ignored. (Maybe the developers fear that such a clause might harm sales and value.)And since the final meeting rejected the application this proposal was never resumed.

I and JQL probably disagree on whether the real problem is that the current plans design in conflict, instead of sympathy, with the trees. But the fall back is to protect the trees as best we can. And via PM he has given me some useful ideas. I am genuinely grateful.
The trees are within our park, and protected. It is unacceptable that any developer should expect them to go for the sake of his own profit.

I have real sympathy with JQLs more general point about affordable housing quotas. However this particular development is interesting.

The large part of the site has been owned by the public sector for a long time. (GLC, NHS or Lambeth) Given land is probably the most expensive part of any development we should reasonably expect to see a greater public benefit on developments on public owned land. (This debate has already been carried out on Lang Rabbies thread about Coin Street and the Doon Street Development.) Yet we are getting about 50% private flats, and many of the "benefits" promised, as I explained in my first post, are simply replacements for existing facilities. As I recall there are only about 15 "additional" key worker flats. The rest are replacement. In a developemnt of over 600 flats. And if current policy is continued the rents will not be particularly affordable.

The problem seems to be a bizarre decision by the developers to buy the Holy Trinity Centre, currently used as a Buddhist Centre. Plannning policy was clear. This building should be retained. (Indeed the about to be adopted UDP says this building MUST be retained.) But that sympathetic modern developemnt would be allowed on the hospital owned land.

The owner, a Buddhist, had no particular wish to sell. But I understand, was offered "shed-loads" of money by the developers, three or four years back. Presumably representing the value of the land if the building was not there. The fact that the hospital will be allowed modern development on the land it owns within the conservation area does not give it a right to buy more land within that area, demolish what is on it, and then build.

The problem for the developers is that they need to make their money back. Yet if this planning permission fails because of the protected status of the Holy Trinity Centre, the Centre will probably be worth less than they paid for it.

So JQL, we can't blame Ken. The developer has dug his own trap. There are lots of twists and turns including who within the community advised the hospital to buy. But my guess is that the developer is now very worried. And is pulling out all the stops.

The Holy Trinity Centre is lovely and used by a surprising number of local people. (You can just walk in a have a cup of tea - but not Wednesdays.) It should be preserved. And it is the Holy Trinity Centre that borders the park. If the hospital had not bought it, and had to maximise their profit, the tree problem would not have arisen.

Oh, and on light, I like JQLs decsription of minimum light levels being the light from a candle a foot away. The second ground for Lambeth's refusal was the density of the development. I recall a lovely moment in the very strange second planning meeting when Councillors discovered that about five flats would not even have this minimum level of natural light. Dont worry said the developer. Those flats are for key workers.
Tuesday 12 December 2006 5.16pm


I do not know who Fred is and why he seems to dislike me so much. I just doing my best, and I think my agenda is pretty clear. I am pleased that at least someone, and I have no idea who you are, recognises it.

[ paragraph snipped by JH ][because I outed a possible conflict of interest! Sarah]

On the planning process, I need some real help. It is all getting very convoluted. Southwark Planners who read this site, please come to my rescue!

The developers applied for both planning consent and conservation area consent. (The conservation area consent included a request to demolish the Holy Trinity Centre") My recollection is that the Planning Applications Committee voted to reject the application, but it was not specified whether this was the planning or Conservation area consent. The letter that ultimately issued says simply " refuse permisison" with no mention of which permission is being refused, and the grounds for refusal refer only to the adopted and revised and deposit UDPs, and say that the proposed buildings south of Royal Street

"by way of their height, length and proximity to the boundary with Archbishops Park, harm the setting of the Park thereby failing to preserve the character and appearance of Lambeth Palace Conservation area."

What about the fact that the development requires the demolition of every building within this part of the conservation area, and the felling of every tree. It was clear that the Planning Applications Committee from their discussion were concerned about protecting the conservation area more generally.

What does this mean? Have the developers de facto been given permission to demolish what is a lovely building.

The developer's appeal documents are not on the Planning Inspectorate's website. ( anyone know where I might find them on Lambeth site. I have tried phoning the Lambeth case officer (who apparantly only started working for Lambeth on Monday) but I am not getting a response. Maybe he has realised what a poison chalice he is holding and has run away.

Comments need to be in by 4 January to be considered. If I can't see the documents, it will be really difficult.

Thanks in advance.

Tuesday 12 December 2006 7.42pm
OK. Let's look at this objectively.

This site lies within a Conservation Area, and under the existing UDP, the site to the south of Royal Street is to be used as an extension of the park.

HOWEVER, under the UDP being adopted next year the site is designated for development.

THEREFORE, whether or not THIS development gets approval, a development is extremely likely to take place on the site. The existing buildings on the site are of no particular architectural merit, and certainly not enough to warrant not providing homes to over 1,000 people, plus the other service provisions proposed.

GIVEN that any development will need to meet British Standards for the protection of the trees and so on, just as this one does, the arguements all boil down to whether this development design is acceptable or abhorrent.

FURTHER, in terms of development mix, the developers of the site will want to or have an obligation to (in the case of the trust) make the most out of the site. They can't go and increase social housing, for example, without breaching their trustee or shareholder responsibilities.

Now, whilst wanting more of something or less of something is great in theory, it is pointless if the development complies with policies. We live in a democratic society, we have rules and processes. We need to live with the consequences.

I admire Sarah's strident views and desire for a better world, but it does need to be tempered with reality given the legal and planning framework here.

My personal view is that I don't mind the design - it could easily be alot worse - and that the impact on the park is not negative overall. I would personally prefer to be less isolated when in this park.

Whatever my personal views are, however, are irrelevant. The FoAP, as promised at the AGM, are consulting it's membership on what they want to do. The options range from no opposition to oppose on all grounds. The forms should be out this week.

Whatever the members decide will be carried out to the best of my and other committee members abilities. We are the members representatives and our personal views are irrelevant. This is shown by the fact that Neil Walsh (who proposed full objection at the AGM) has kindly assisted the FoAP to draft the consultation to ensure it is balanced and non-partisan.

Whatever the outcome of the vote, what is certain is that this site will be developed in the next couple of years. It is merely a question of whether we can ensure that what is developed does not harm and hopefully positively improves the park.


Tuesday 12 December 2006 10.49pm
Hi Sarah,

I know it's ackward as it's Christmas, but perhaps you could organise a meeting, so people could get together to discuss the planning permission and the best grounds to oppose it.

That way we are all saying the right things when writing in.
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