Anyone else shocked this has been waived through by the council? Or is it yet another example of an ill-considered and highly-objected-to proposal being nodded through in order to edge closer to housing development targets?
Anyone who is familiar with the proposed site on Rockingham Street can see this is a scrappy little area of land, wedged up against a railway line and, significantly, in close proximity to existing housing. Allegedly, it's within the distance required for a new build but I defy anyone to measure the same distance the planners managed to obtain.
70 of us complained, attended meetings and went through the whitewash that is the 'planning consultation' all for the completion of a mere 30 homes (on 13 storeys -it's gone up another level since the consultation). These pretend 'we're listening' exercises are nothing but an attempt to make citizens feel they're empowered when they're powerless in the face of planning legislation that ignores residents' concerns.
Another significant problem is the membership of the council making these decisions; they all represent green and less developed areas of the borough at some significant distance from the mini-Manhattan they're attempting to construct along the river and southwards.
It seems if you're near a potential tower that will allow Southwark to build a few new homes, you just have to live with it...don't bother contesting; it will make no difference.
None of the 70 objectors turned up to address the planning committee, which didn't do their case any favours (though as you say would probably not have changed the outcome).
Regardless of the merits of the decision, it's not true to say that "all" the planning committee represent leafier parts of the borough - at least four of the eight councillors represent SE1/SE16/SE17 wards.
30 apartments, of which 4 social rented (only 76 are going in the entire new Heygate) and 6 shared ownership, on an underused site with tall buildings established to the east, south, north and west, is sensible. I personally wouldn't want to live so close to a railway line but modern building methods address this.
The number of objectors is of no bearing.
The objections have to be valid planning objections and any planning officer or advisor can explain what these are. They have to relate to policy (on LBS website), or obstruction of daylight for a large part of the day (highly unlikely as it lies to the north of MCH), or incompatibility of uses (e.g. if it was a nightclub it would clearly be noisy; 30 flats would not be). They cannot relate to impacts on property value or the view from a residential window (no-one has a right to a particular view, least of all a view of another tall building, the Shard).
That, I'm afraid, is why it got approved and any make-up of councillors would have done the same.
MCH is a very tall, monolithic, noisy (Nandos and Wetherspoons) and wholly private and gated development which in its day would, even as an office conversion, have been viewed by some as 'overdevelopment'...
I'm guilty for not attending the planning committee, James Hatts - confession: I didn't know I could. But, agree, doubtful it would have made much difference.
Colinio's post mentions a lot of the points we had to acknowledge in complaining; though, it doesn't seem right that you can't complain based on property value or views when these do have a material impact on, respectively, an owner or (arguably) a resident...but understand if the law changed to accommodate these objections, it could be misused.
Yep.. and very little would get built! London boroughs also don't have much latitude to reject housing proposals because the Mayor sets binding targets on how many homes to build and how densely to develop near to tube/rail stations. Given the proximity to E&C tube the developer simply points to the Mayor's London Plan which says how many rooms you have to fit on per hectare, and then it becomes a matter of how you design it.
It is unfortunate that councils (and the Mayor) don't do more to explain what can and cannot be done to influence developments locally and expectations get mismanaged.
The issue with Rockingham Street is that the footprint is exceptionally small, no doubt modern techniques will allow for a 13 storey building but its tiny. Another issue is the whole of the Rockingham area is around 4 - 5 storeys in height with the newest build the opposite side of the bridge being only 5 storeys was sensitive to the area. Around the roundabouts is a different storey where the footprint is large and can go sky high, this will be completely out of place in the area and is an absolute overkill. For the sake of another 7 storeys they are going to compound the Slavation Army, other members of rockingham and MCH which is completely unnecessary given the volume of new housing being built in the vicinty. The only saving grace is hopefully this will not shut the patrons / owners of Lenos Y Carbon up who just make noise constantly talking in the street at all hours of the night
What's really clear is that the Elephant is rapidly becoming another tall building cluster.
So it's not that the a new 13 storey building is out of scale with the 43-storey Strata or the (nearer) 22-storey Signal Building on Newington Causeway. (or even the 10-storey Heygate Estate/Perronet House etc) It's that the 4-5 storey Rockingham estate is out of scale with the other buildings around.
A fact of life (like it or not) is that this area has massively changed. In the mid 1980s, London's population was at its lowest for years (6.7 million) - and nobody wanted to live in the grotty inner city bits like Elephant and Bermondsey.
In those days the GLC was grateful to get people into council homes in the area that actually paid rent (rather than just squatting) so students could get three-bedroom council flats if they were prepared to brave the area.
By 2013, the population of London had grown to 8.4 million (up 25%) and inner city London with its excellent transport links has proved a very popular place to put new homes for these people. And these homes are back being the very high density the inner city traditionally had.
So very low rise homes like the Scovell estate (or the houses by the Weston Street/Long Lane junction) got built in the 1970s because there was hardly any desire to have homes here at all. They, sadly, are the out-of-place anachronism, rather than the new towers.
This is the inevitable consequence of London becoming the 'desirable, go-to, world city' - like it or not - and the pace of change isn't going to slow any time soon.
I can't see SE1 going back to being as desirable as Rotherham or Sunderland in the next 20 years or so, but I could be wrong.
Oh yes,jpm, I can't wait to get back to Rotherham....when I moved to the Elephant everybody thought I was off my trolley. Now, the famous Regeneration which we've been waiting for for fifteen years is finally getting under way. No point grumbling that the area is becoming "desirable" all of a sudden. Alas the whole feeling of the E&C is becoming rather claustrophobic, the buildings in every direction are all tall towers, and I'm sorry for it. But I'm trying to be philosophical about it. I also live in Metro Central Heights, and my view is disappearing slowly, but with such a small amount of land in central London, it is simply going to be necessary to build up. Sad but true.