Refused: EPR’s £1bn Ram Brewery scheme rejected at inquiry
EPR Architects’ Ram Brewery scheme in Wandsworth, South London, has been thrown out following a public inquiry
Earlier today (1 July) Eric Pickles, minister for Communities and Local Government, deemed that the 2.6ha ‘Ram complex’ scheme would have had an ‘unacceptably harmful’ effect on its surroundings.
He said: ‘[The] presence of the two tall towers on the northern edge of the site would be so overwhelming that they would harm the character and setting of listed buildings and undermine the distinctive quality of the conservation area.’
Ravi Govindia, Wandsworth Council’s cabinet member for strategic planning, said: ‘This is very disappointing. It comes down to the inspector’s own opinion on the design of the towers. He said that the location was suitable for tall buildings – just not the ones proposed.’
Campaigner Cyril Richert, of the Clapham Junction Action Group, said: ‘This decision is a huge relief for all the groups in Wandsworth who campaigned against the scheme.
‘It is also an opportunity for the Council to listen and work better with local communities in order to assess future possibilities in the borough.’
The £1 billion mixed-use scheme featured a 42-storey and 32-storey tower with 829 homes and retail on a former brewery, home to grade II* and grade ll listed buildings.
The 11 per cent affordable housing provision was also ruled to be ‘unacceptably low’ and the proximity of the towers to gasholders conflicted with development plan policies.
CABE in October 2009 slammed revised plans for the project, calling on the local authority to refuse planning permission.
Initial plans were for the site were approved by the local authority in December 2008.
Previous story (21.10.09)
CABE slams EPR Architects’ revised Ram Brewery plans
CABE has slammed ‘alternative’ proposals drawn up by EPR Architects to build two towers on the Ram Brewery site in Wandsworth, London
The government’s design watchdog has again criticised the lack of detail in the design of the buildings, which would be 32 and 42 storeys in height (see CABE’s original comments from October 2008). A public inquiry into the Minerva-backed development is due to start in November 2009.
The report adds: ‘We consider the sweeping gestures at the tops of the towers to be inappropriate. We also think that the alternate grouping of floors in the buildings’ elevations hinders the clear reading of the towers and produces confused and inelegant looking buildings when viewed from afar.’
‘In our view, the case for tall buildings on this site is far from self-evident and a compelling case still needs to be made for them. We continue to believe that this can only properly be assessed in the context of a borough-wide tall buildings strategy.’
EPR had hoped that tweaks to the initial design, which include shrinking the towers’ lower floor plates, would appease the commission and the planning inspector.
However CABE is not convinced: ‘While we acknowledge the ground floor cut-backs to the towers have been introduced to increase permeability at their bases, this amendment creates new problems for the design and functioning of the buildings. Residential lobbies are squeezed and their relocated entrances address the heavily trafficked Armoury Way. In design terms, the cut-backs visually weaken the towers’ connection to the ground and create a poor juxtaposition with the converted stable block.’
As well as calling on the council to refuse planning permission for the project – the original scheme already has approval from Wandsworth Council – CABE suggests that a borough-wide tall buildings strategy is employed to allow for sufficient thought to go into any further proposals for towers in the area (read for the latest CABE report here).
Nobody from EPR was available for comment.