04 August 2023
Stop the Blocks Community Action Group has spent some time analysing the Lambeth Planning Committee’s (LPC) direction to approve conditional planning permission on 27 June 2023 for the Woodlands development (Dugard Way, Kennington, SE11 4TH).
We believe that there are several key grounds and issues as to why the conditional planning permission should be refused or halted for further consideration. The reasons why development proposal should be refused at a regional level (London Plan policy level), by the Mayor (including the GLA Planning Team) are also relevant for consideration and an intervention by the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (Mr Michael Gove). The issues extend beyond London regional matters due to the conflicts of the proposed development with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
The proposed development:
1) Is inconsistent with matters as prescribed in the NPPF in particular with policies for conserving and enhancing the historic environment (NPPF Chapter 16).
2) Could have significant effects beyond their immediate locality, in terms of the precedence it sets in terms of what is an acceptable development.
3) Raises significant architectural and urban design issues. Its design will impact at least seven existing heritage assets and two conservation areas. Its design will also negatively impact existing residential amenity in terms of daylight/sunlight below an adjusted BRE level, which are far below the BRE guidance.
4) Is inconsistent with the findings of the Inspector on a previous appeal for development of the site (Planning Inspectorate Appeal Ref: APP/N5660/W/20/3248960) . The Inspector identified that the site could have secured sufficient public benefits with a development of c90 units, compared to the proposed 126 units.
Lambeth Planning Committee’s (LPC) direction to approve conditional planning permission was flawed and the proposal should be refused or “called in” because:
1. The Application proposes 24% affordable housing, significantly below the 50% threshold required for former public owned land and contrary to Policy H5 of the London Plan.
2. The provision of affordable housing and mix of housing by tenure is not consistent with development plan expectations.
3. When considering the application, the Council’s planning committee members and the public were not provided with a current and up to date financial viability assessment with which to consider whether the provision of affordable housing was the maximum attainable or that the over densification of the site was justifiable in financial or planning terms.
4. Historic England and the GLA conclude the development will result in “some harm” and a “degree of harm” to a unique cluster of listed buildings in the immediate vicinity of the site. The harm to the heritage assets is not outweighed by the public benefits of the development, contrary to paragraph 202 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and Lambeth Local Plan Policy HC1 (Heritage Conservation and Growth).
5. In determining the application, three members of the Planning Committee appear to have unlawfully taken costs, risks, and reputational harm into account as material planning considerations to approve the application contrary to R (Miles) v Tonbridge & Malling BC et al.  WHC 1608 (Admin).
6. The bulk, scale and mass of the application will not preserve or enhance the prevailing local character contrary to Lambeth Local Plan Policy Q7 (Urbans Design: New Development).
7. The application will result in a significant decrease in daylight and sunlight to adjoining properties contrary to Lambeth Local Plan Policy Q2 (Amenity) and below the amended BRE target set as a minimum at the site by the Appeal Inspector in his appeal decision.
The deprivation of daylight, sunlight, and impact of overshadowing by the developments on existing residents far exceed the tolerances in existing BRE guidelines and now effectively establishes a benchmark to build dark depressive clusters across central and urban areas in London.
8. The application fails to provide adequate replacement trees contrary to Lambeth Local Plan Policy Q10 (Trees).
In addition to these matters, there are the following serious concerns about the application:
1. The planning application and supporting documentation have several inconsistencies in them not allowing the application to be assessed accurately.
2. The proposed tower block would be incongruous to its surrounding context. The proposed tower block is an over-scaled building and does not preserve or enhance the nearby listed buildings. The footprint and bulk of this application are still significantly large when compared with the refused appeal scheme.
3. The site has substantial issues with its servicing arrangements due to poor access, parking provision, and inadequate delivery and service plan.
Please help fight the conditional planning permission in order to secure a better development of the former Woodlands nursing home site in Kennington