TfL consultation on Overground stations

Transport for London (TfL) are holding a public consultation on proposals for two new Overground stations at Old Oak.  The consultation is a short one, lasting from 16th October to 17th November 2017.

The details are at this link https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/london-overground/old-oak-common/?cid=old-oak-common

The locations of these proposed new stations were consulted on back in 2014, in the early days of plans for Old Oak.  The stations are intended to provide an interchange for passengers between the HS2/Queen Elizabeth Line (Crossrail) station at Old Oak Common and the London Overground network.

This interchange will be less than ideal, as neither Overground station will be adjacent to the main station (the Hythe Road station will involve a 700m walk between the two).  The business case for each station is still being developed and there is as yet no certainty on sources of funding.

Overground locations

The proposals for the Old Oak Common Lane station are not going down well with residents in the immediate vicinity.  The ‘visualisations’ suggest a 4 storey office block at the top of Midland Terrace and an elevated pedestrian/cycle bridge across to Victoria Road.  The impact on neighbouring houses would be huge.

The preferred option for a Hythe Road station involves a new station and railway viaduct to the north of the existing embankment. The existing embankment would be removed, opening up access between the north and southern parts of Cargiant’s 43 acres – destined to become ‘Old Oak Park’ with 6,500 new homes.

The Old Oak Interim Neighbourhood Forum will be submitting a response to the consultation.  Please email oonforum@gmail.com if you would like your views reflected in the Forum’s response.

Closed minds

In the run up to the September 2017 decisions made by the OPDC Planning Committee, OPDC Board, and Hammersmith & Fulham Cabinet, we tried to make decision-makers aware that they were ignoring Government guidance on neighbourhood planning, as well as the very clear outcome of the public consultation on our proposals for an extensive Old Oak neighbourhood area.

Concerns over the Hammersmith & Fulham Council decisions

Our letter to members of the Hammersmith & Fulham Cabinet can be read here OONF letter to LBHF Cabinet.V4.  This includes a detailed annexe setting out why we think that the decisions recommended by officers were unjustified.  The inaccurate information about responses from the Old Oak Friends and Residents Association is a particular concern.

Unlike other London Boroughs, Hammersmith & Fulham still does not seem to understand the basics of neighbourhood planning.  As on a previous occasion in 2012, the Council’s response has been one of minimal compliance with the 2011 Localism Act by designating a much smaller area than that proposed, and one that nobody has applied for.

In designating a separate neighbourhood area, the Council has also frustrated the expressed wishes of those respondents to the consultation who wished to see Wormwood Scrubs, the Old Oak Estate, the Linford Christie Stadium, Woodman Mews, Scrubs Lane and College Park as part of a coherent wider neighbourhood area.

Concerns over the OPDC decisions 

OPDC officers have devoted an enormous amount of time and energy in finding reasons to justify removing 89% of the 280 hectare neighbourhood area originally proposed in the OONF designation application.  This was after 18 months of discussion on the proposed boundary.

A letter was sent to OPDC Board members from the St Quintin and Woodlands Neighbourhood Forum, prior to the Board’s final decision on September 12th.  A copy can be read here StQW to OPDC on OONF designation. Sept 2017.

The principle applied by OPDC officers, that parts of a neighbourhood area have to show uniform or consistent characteristics to be ‘appropriate’ for designation, is entirely novel.  Nowhere else across England has this approach been applied, in the 2,000 or so neighbourhood areas designated to date.

London already has several neighbourhood areas as large as the 280 hectares proposed at Old Oak, and ones that include brownfield land, railway infrastructure, Opportunity Areas, open spaces of London-wide significance, and other features which OPDC officers seem to think should be classed as ‘diverse character areas’ and hence ‘inappropriate’ for inclusion as part of a single designated neighbourhood.

The attitude of both these local planning authorities is proving to be very defensive and negative.  Significant and sustained efforts by local residents to contribute to the planning of a future Old Oak have been rebuffed.

Both bodies are offering meetings to discuss alternative forms of ‘dialogue’ and ‘engagement’.  But this is not the same thing as granting local people what is now a widely accepted and meaningful role in the planning process, through preparation of a neighbourhood plan.

Parliament introduced neighbourhood plans in 2011 as ‘powerful tools’ for local communities to influence what sort of development takes place in their area (within clearly defined limits).  The OPDC and Hammersmith & Fulham Council appear to have taken fright at this prospect.  This does not bode well for creating a successful and sustainable new part of London.

 

Mitre Yard development – will OPDC respect Hammersmith & Fulham views?

The planning application for the development pictured below is due to be considered by the OPDC Planning Committee on 12th July 2017.  The scheme is at 104-8 Scrubs lane, opposite the recently approved developments at ‘North Kensington Gate.

Proposed Mitre yard development
Proposed Mitre yard development

Hammersmith & Fulham Council’s Planning and Development Control Committee considered the application at its meeting on June 12th.  The committee agreed with officer advice that the proposed scheme is premature, and should await future decisions on a new road layout for Scrubs Lane.

The site is bisected by the private access road to the EMR and Powerday waste sites.  Many HGV waste vehicles enter and exit this road every day, often queuing up in Scrubs Lane to do so and bringing traffic in both directions to a halt.  It is hard to see how a development of apartments at this location could be successful until an alternative access road is built. EMR do not see this happening anytime soon.

The second of the two ‘observations’ from Hammersmith & Fulham Council is that the proposed affordable housing offer is not acceptable. The developers are proposing flats at ‘discounted market rent’, an option which many London councils see as unaffordable to residents on median incomes.

Although the developers have improved their offer in latest negotiations with OPDC planners, LBHF councillors still see it as inadequate and are looking for flats at London Living Rent to be part of the S106 package.

The OPDC has published the independent advice its has received from BNP Paribas, on the financial viability of the proposed scheme.  Such transparency is welcome, and reflects the Mayor of London’s policy of greater openness on financial viability assessments.

Anyone interested in the ‘dark arts’ of how developers and their consultants use financial viability assessments, and the data that goes into them, to minimise the level of affordable housing that a scheme can support will find this document and informative read.  See at Mitre Yard BNP Paribas.

More residential towers in Scrubs Lane

Scrubs Lane (the A219 north south route on the eastern border of the OPDC area) is seeing a wave of development proposals.

Planning approval granted to the scheme at North Kensington Gate (South site) was swiftly followed by a decision of the OPDC Planning Committee to grant permission to Aurora Development’s second application on its northern site at 115-129a Scrubs Lane.

This scheme involves a 22 storey tower, with 164 housing units above ground floor commercial space.  Give that this is the first building of anything like this height within the surrounding area, the application proved very contentious.

North Kensington Gate proposed southern tower
North Kensington Gate proposed southern tower

Strong objections were submitted by Historic England, RB Kensington & Chelsea, and LB Hammersmith & Fulham.  There were 39 objections from local residents.  Neighbouring waste contractors European Metal Recycling pointed out that they are not intending to move their own operations anytime soon.

The density of residential development on the site (448 housing units per hectare) is in excess of London Plan standards even for sites with the highest levels of public transport accessibility.  ‘North Kensington Gate’ has very poor transport links.  This will remain the case until the HS2 terminal and a (possible) Hythe Road Overground station open, scheduled but not certain for 2026.

The vote at the OPDC Planning Committee was close, with the three independent members of the committee and its non-elected chair outvoting three of the four local councillors on the committee.

Mitre Yard

This decision was followed by submission of a planning application for a further residential development at ‘Mitre Yard’.  The developers are the City and Docklands Property Group.  This involves two sites across the road from North Kensington Gate.

The sites are separated by the private access road to the EMR and Powerday waste sites.  This road is used by large numbers of HGVs and already creates daily traffic jams in Scrubs Lane as these vehicles enter and leave the site.  EMR has again objected strongly to the application.

The proposed development is for 200 housing units above ground floor commercial space.  The affordable element of the development, in the application, is for 35% of the units to be at ‘discounted market rent’.

The discount proposed is the minimum 20% of market rent.  This qualifies (just) as ‘affordable housing’ in terms of current London Mayoral housing policies.  But in reality the building of such flats will open up viable housing opportunities for few if any of the existing low income residents in the area.

It is understood that the application will be considered by the OPDC Planning Committee on July 12th 2017.

Slide1

If this application is approved, and this development constructed, the view looking south along Scrubs Lane will be as above.  In the first draft OPD Local Plan, this location was described as a ‘sensitive edge’ of the OPDC area, suitable for low and medium rise buildings and adjacent to two conservation areas. The latest Regulation 19 Draft Local Plan introduces the concept of four ‘clusters’ along Scrubs Lane, each to be allowed one tall building.

An application for a third proposed tower at 2 Scrubs Lane looks likely to surface shortly.

OPDC gives permission for ‘North Kensington Gate’ (north) development

At the meeting of the OPDC Planning Committee on March 1st, approval was granted to the planning application for the proposals from Aurora Developments for the northern of its two sites in Scrubs Lane NW10. The address is 93-97 Scrubs Lane, overlooking St Marys Cemetery

The site is shown below, along with a CGI image of the completed building.  The development includes 47 new housing units in two blocks (11 and 4 storey) with some commercial space on the ground floor.

North Kensington Gate (north scheme)
North Kensington Gate (north scheme)
North Kensington Gate (north site)
North Kensington Gate (north site)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The St Helens Residents Association spoke at the committee to object to the scheme on several grounds:

  • the density of 440 housing units per hectare is way in excess of London Plan policies for a site with very poor public transport accessibility
  • future planned improvements to public transport (the proposed Overground station at Hythe Road and Crossrail) are 10 years away and should not be used as justification for approval in 2017.
  • the plans take no account of traffic congestion in Scrubs Lane, arising from waste vehicles entering and leaving the private road to the EMR and Powerday waste sites.

The planning committee at Hammersmith and Fulham has not yet discussed this planning application, nor the even more controversial proposals from Aurora for a 22 storey residential tower at 115-129A Scrubs Lane (see earlier post).

The application was approved with only Hammersmith & Fulham councillor Natalia Perez voting against.  Further applications for Aurora’s southern site, 2 Scrubs Lane, and ‘Mitre Yard’ (all on Scrubs Lane) look like coming before the committee in the next few months.

Meanwhile the daily reality of Scrubs Lane remains one of traffic queues, little pedestrian footfall, and a very busy waste site.  It is not clear how the addition of four residential towers will help to achieve the OPDC aim that ‘Scrubs Lane will be transformed into a pleasant street, respectful of surrounding heritage assets with a high quality public realm’ (OPDC Regulation 18 Draft Local Plan).

Waste vehicles queuing to enter the EMR and Powerday sites
Waste vehicles queuing to enter the EMR and Powerday sites

 

Update on developments proposed for Scrubs Lane

North Kensington Gate

Planning applications submitted by Aurora Developments for two schemes on the eastern side of Scrubs Lane, overlooking St Marys Cemetery are awaiting decision by the OPDC.   Many objections have been lodged on the OPDC planning website, especially for the southern scheme with its proposed 22 storey tower at 115-129a Scrubs Lane (see at this link).

RB Kensington and Chelsea have submitted strong objections.  The application is due to be considered by Hammersmith and Fulham’s Planning and Development Control Committee of February 8th.

We hope that this committee questions the logic of building at this height and density a decade before public transport accessibility levels in this section of Scrubs Lane increase from their current very low level.

Mitre Yard

Across the road from these proposed schemes, developers City and Docklands are holding a second exhibition of proposals for their site just north of Mitre Bridge.   The density of the latest plans is some 374 housing units per hectare, as compared with the 450 proposed by Aurora.

The public exhibition will be at the City Mission Church, 2 Scrubs Lane on Wednesday 25 January between 2.00pm and 8.oopm.

2 Scrubs Lane

The third new development in the pipeline for Scrubs Lane involves demolishing the existing City Mission church and nursery at 2 Scrubs Lane (corner of Harrow Road) and replacing it with a new residential tower.

The developers are Fruition Properties, and the architects are Stiff and Trevillion.   A first briefing session for local people was held in December, but no drawings are available yet.  The new building will provide space for the church and nursery at ground floor level, with some 70 housing units above.  Building height is likely to be 18-20 storeys, with a density of 450-500 housing units per hectare.

This site at the northern end of Scrubs Lane has Willesden Junction in walking distance and hence better public transport access than at Mitre Bridge.  But this density exceeds the maximum in the London Plan Density Matrix, even for the most ‘central’ locations with the highest PTAL levels.

If these schemes set the bar for building height, at what the OPDC define as a ‘sensitive edge’ of new Old Oak, what is likely to happen at the centre of the regeneration area, around the HS2 station?   Predictions of 40-60 storey buildings are looking all the more likely, unless Sadiq Khan as Mayor of London takes a tougher line on building height than his Mayoral predecessor.

 

More news on Scrubs Lane

Proposals for new developments at Scrubs Lane are coming forward thick and fast.  Too fast, in that developers are trying to exploit an assumed level of public transport accessibility that is not there yet (and may never be).

The two planning applications for North Kensington Gate have been ‘under consideration’ by the OPDC since mid September.  The Hammersmith Society, and St Helens Residents Association, submitted objections several weeks ago pointing out that these schemes involved super-densities of 450 housing units per hectare.

Such a density is above the maximum in the London Plan Density Matrix for a development in a ‘Central’ area with the highest possible level of public transport accessibility (PTAL).  Scrubs Lane as a location comes nowhere close to meeting this context, having no nearby station, a single bus route, and a PTAL level of 1b on a scale of 1-6.

North Kensington Gate proposed southern tower
North Kensington Gate proposed southern tower

This has not stopped Aurora from taking their proposals to planning application stage.   More disturbingly, the OPDC  and TfL planners seem to have closed their eyes to this basic flaw with the Aurora scheme.

The comments on the applications from Transport for London notes the current PTAL level of 1b, and fails to mention that ‘extensive planned transport improvements‘ will not be in place until 2026 (assuming they happen at all – the new Overground stations remain in doubt).

We have been pressing the OPDC to release copies of the pre-application planning advice provided to Aurora.  Copies of four such letters have now been added to the OPDC online planning pages for these applications.

It is good to see that the OPDC seems now to to be following the example of London Boroughs such as Kensington and Chelsea, and publishing such advice routinely once a planning application has been submitted.  The Grand Union Alliance has argued for such transparency.  Many councils continue to treat such letters as ‘commercially confidential’ and refuse to release them.

You can see copies of the four letters at these links:

opdc-planning-advice-august-2015

opdc-planning-advice-1-dec-2015

opdc-planning-advice-18-dec-2015

opdc-planning-advice-19-may-2016

These letters cover many issues about the detailed design of the proposed buildings.  But they start from the premise that mixed use development is acceptable with a density of 300 housing units per hectare.  The developers initial plans were for 3 towers of 29, 22 and 18 storeys, with an averaged density of approximately 820 units per hectare.

Not the the first time, it appears that such proposals were an opening bid by the developers, who retained plenty of room for negotiation while arguing that any reductions in density would compromise viability.

Neighbouring landowners and waste operators Powerday and ERM have caught up with the Aurora proposals and have submitted letters of objection.  Their concerns are that their own operations will be impacted on.  They point out that the Aurora proposals are premature and present a picture of Scrubs Lane which bears little relation to its daily reality (queues of waste vehicles queuing to get and out of the EMR/Powerday access road, on one of London’s dirtiest and more congested streets).

Given this background, we are becoming more optimistic that the Aurora proposals will not be approved in their current from.  And we hope that the developers of ‘Mitre Yard’ are taking note of the points raised in the emr and powerday objections, which apply equally to the City & Docklands site at 2 Scrubs Lane.

Scrubs Lane is a location in need of regeneration and redevelopment, no one would deny.   But this needs to be ‘plan-led’ and not ‘developer led’. The first version of the OPDC Local Plan envisaged Scrubs Lane as a ‘high quality street’  on a sensitive edge of the OPDC area and adjacent to two conservation areas.

The OPDC Planning Committee on 15th December will be considering a Direction of Travel document for Scrubs Lane, incorporating work carried out by East architects.  The report forms part of a committee agenda too large to publish via this website (12MB) but which can be downloaded from this link to the OPDC website.

This Direction of Travel document is the first stage in preparing a Supplementary Planning Document for Scrubs Lane, to accompany the final Local Plan.  This draft document will be consulted on in early 2017. It contains a set of ‘principles’ for Scrubs Lane which reflect earlier consultations and most of which local people would probably support.

But it also includes ‘guidance for four clusters to guide the location of active uses and shape built form’ .   The proposed clusters are at Harrow Road, what the OPDC has termed Laundry Lane, Hythe Road and at Mitre Bridge.  The Mitre Bridge cluster is shown below:

The Mitre Bridge 'Cluster' as shown in the Direction of Travel for Scrubs Lane
The Mitre Bridge ‘Cluster’ as shown in the Direction of Travel for Scrubs Lane

 

 

‘Principle 9’ in the draft document reads as below:

Principle: Delivering a range of heights and massing that responds to sensitive locations and development opportunities including:
a. generally 6-8 storeys onto Scrubs Lane and Harrow Road;
b. lower massing opposite the Cumberland Park Factory and adjacent to Mary Seacole Gardens;
c. increased heights adjacent to the railway;
d. a single taller building in each cluster; and
e. visual permeability between buildings.

Two options for the single taller building at at each cluster are explored in the document, 10 storeys and 18 storeys.  Images providing a visual assessment of each option from a range of viewing points are included in an appendix, and are worth looking at.

It needs to be remembered that buildings of 8 storeys remain a rarity at present in this part of London, let alone 10, 18 or more.  6-8 storeys as the norm is justified by the OPDC as providing an appropriate sense of enclosure to the street in response to the width of Scrubs Lane and Harrow Road and surrounding context.  

Cumberland House, currently the tallest building in Scrubs Lane, is in this range.  Is this building height appropriate, on both sides of the street, with an extra very tall buildings at each ‘cluster’.  Will this provide a high quality street, of a kind familiar to Londoners, at the edge of the OPDC area?

As will be the case for the remainder of the Old Oak area, the massing and height of development in Scrubs Lane is being driven by two forces:

  • developers arguing that their proposals are not financially viable unless they are allowed to build at extreme densities, above London Plan guidance.
  • the task faced by OPDC planners in allocating across individual ‘Places’ a target of 24,00 new homes at Old Oak.

This target was inserted into Annexe 1 of the current London Plan in its last review.   As OONF and the Grand Union Alliance pointed out (in responses to the first draft OPDC Local Plan) the justification for this target rests on a Development Capacity Study which works backwards from this 24,000 figure, rather than explaining where it came from in the first place.

Scrubs Lane, as an area in which developers have been assembling landholdings, is the first real test of how a proposed OPDC average housing density of 447 units per hectare will pan out at each Place, Cluster, and individual site.

The current review of the London Plan provides the only opportunity to see this overall housing target revisited.  Meanwhile we can only hope that the OPDC and its Planning Committee will continue to pursue a ‘plan-led’ approach and resist attempts by developers to max out their profits on every site in Scrubs Lane, in a period before sufficient transport infrastructure is in place.

Proposals for 2 Scrubs Lane will be on display next week.  There will be a further post on this site with more news.

 

Forum responds to OPDC consultation on CIL

The Forum has responded to the consultation carried out by by the OPDC on the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).   CIL is a levy applied to different classes of development, paid by the developer or planning applicant to the local planning authority.

Our response comments on the charging levels proposed by the OPDC and questions how consultation on the 15% ‘neighbourhood element’ of CIL will take place.  This portion of CIL is not required to be spent solely on ‘infrastructure’ and local people in the OPDC area will have other priorities to suggest.  Social and education facilities will be amongst these, as well as bridges and roads and rail stations.

In areas with a ‘made’ (i.e. adopted) neighbourhood plan, 25% of CIL receipts are treated as ‘Neighbourhood CIL’  In a rural area with parish councils, these funds are handed to the parish for them to decide on how these funds should be spent.  In non-parished area, Government expects the neighbourhood forum to be given a strong say in the allocation of this 25% element.  This is part of Government policy for incentivising neighbourhood planning across England.

We have discussed with OPDC planning officers the handling of Neighbourhood CIL, given that CIL receipts within the OPDC area will ultimately be huge. There is a lot of major infrastructure to be paid for through the use of CIL and S106 receipts.  We have suggested that there should be a Memorandum of Understanding between the OPDC and the neighbourhood forum, defining how best to consult and agree on the use of Neighbourhood CIL.

A copy of our response can be downloaded here oonf-comments-on-opdc-cil-consultation-final

Proposals for ‘Mitre Yard’ in Scrubs Lane

Following on from planning applications from Aurora Developments for their scheme at ‘North Kensington Gate’ proposals have emerged for a second major residential development on Scrubs Lane NW10.

City and Docklands have exhibited initial plans for a site to be rebranded as Mitre Yard.  The site is that occupied by European Metals Recycling, just north of Mitre Bridge and the Grand Union Canal.

The scheme is mainly residential, for private renting, with employment and retail space at ground floor level.  The architects are Make.

Initial proposals for Mitre Yard
Initial proposals for Mitre Yard

The interim neighbourhood forum will not be submitting its own comments on a planning application, or on pre-application proposals.  As with other applications, we will leave it to the existing residents associations in the area and other bodies (Canals and River Trust, Friends of Wormwood Scrubs) to make their views known.

The proposed density is 400 housing units per hectare (as compared with 450 at North Kensington Gate).  This is classed as ‘medium’ density in terms of OPDC Draft Policy OSP4.  In terms of the London Plan Density Matrix it is at the top of the range, appropriate for ‘Central’ locations with the highest Public Transport Accessibility Levels (PTAL scores).

As with North Kensington Gate, the developers are arguing that the location will ultimately achieve these high PTAL levels.  But until the HS2/Crossrail interchange and a new Overground station at Hythe Road are open, Scrubs Lane has very poor public transport accessibility.  The scheme is proposed as ‘car-free’.

The proposed scheme includes a residential tower (18-20 storeys) along with 6-8 storey blocks.  The tower is placed at the northern part of the site, furthest from the canal.

Image of Mitre Yard scheme
Image of Mitre Yard scheme

A planning application for the Mitre Yard scheme is expected to be submitted in early 2017.  Pre-application discussions with OPDC planners are in progress.

Ground floor plan of Mitre Yard scheme
Ground floor plan of Mitre Yard scheme

 

OPDC publishes shortlist for its Old Oak masterplan

At the end of September, tenders were issued by the OPDC for a £3m masterplanning exercise for Old Oak.

A large portion of the land within OPDC’s boundary area of Old Oak and Park Royal is brownfield public land.  The Government has agreed in principle to transfer this land to the OPDC.

The total boundary area under OPDC’s control is 650ha and the core development area of Old Oak is 134ha. Of this, the public sector owns, and is now releasing, 97ha.

The OPDC will therefore become a major developer at Old Oak, as well as the planning authority deciding on planning applications.  It will be selecting in early 2017 a consortium of planning consultants, architects and advisers to prepare a masterplan and to submit this for outline planning approval.

The choice of masterplanner will have a big impact on what is ultimately built at Old Oak.   The interim Neighbourhood Forum will be watching closely the process of selection of the successful tenderer.

 

The full shortlist

  • Aecom (lead supplier) with team members – BIG, Bilfinger, GVA, Fluid, Maccreanor Lavington, PBA, Weston Williamson, Spacehub, Wilkinson Eyre, East
  • Allies & Morrison (lead supplier) with team members – Diener & Diener, Weston Williamson, Muf, HHBR, Andersen Hunter Horn, Waterman Group, Steer Davies Gleave, Turner & Townsend, Fluid, Nathaniel Lichfield + Partners, Centre for London, Metephor
  • Arup (lead supplier) with team members – KCAP, Gustafson Porter, S333, PAU, Turner + Townsend, People Friendly Design, London Communications Agency
  • Farrells & Heatherwick Studio (lead supplier) with team members – Exterior Architecture, Arup, Arcadis, Bio Regional, ATK11, Steer Davies Gleave, Turleys, Volterra, GHD Rail Engineering, Colliers, Soundings, London Communications Agency, Flexeye, Siemens
  • Grimshaw (lead supplier) with team members – FutureCity, LDA, QUOD, Amec Foster Wheeler, Urban Strategies, Rick Mather Architects, DK-CM, Soundings, Mott MacDonald, RLB, Steer Davies Gleave
  • Hawkins Brown (lead supplier) with team members – Kathryn Firth, White, Metropolitan Workshop, Benedetti Architects, Grant Associates, Turley, Donald Insall Assocs, Pell Frischmann, Tyrens, Phil Jones Assocs, Turner + Townsend, Soundings, Social Life, Fourth Street
  • Karakuesvic Carson Architects & 5th Studio (lead supplier) with team members – We Made That, Agence Ter, Alan Baxter, AKT11, Quod, Hoare Lea, Soundings, EC Harris/Arcadis