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Battersea breaches London Plan – but Boris still happy

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Rafael Viñoly’s proposed £5.5 billion redevelopment of Battersea Power Station has been given the initial thumbs up by Mayor of London Boris Johnson, despite failing to provide enough affordable housing or play space

Johnson said he had been ‘encouraged’ by what he had seen from developer Real Estate Opportunity (REO) and was ‘generally supportive’ of the huge scheme, even though it does not currently comply with the London Plan.

Among the proposal’s shortcomings were a lack of affordable housing, an unclear energy strategy, inadequate provision of children’s play space and issues with the retail element, which required ‘further work in order to ensure full compliance.’

According to Johnson’s official stage 1 report (attached), ‘the applicant had not…. proposed a level of affordable housing for consideration, but [had] indicated that the amount of affordable housing [would] be determined in the context of a viability appraisal to be submitted shortly.’

Nevertheless, the Mayor said: ‘I am encouraged by what I have seen so far and am confident that the developer, in partnership with Wandsworth Council, can work up these proposals into a high-quality masterplan. This will ensure we can deliver on the wider aspirations for the area as set out in the Vauxhall, Nine Elms and Battersea planning framework I am developing with Wandsworth and Lambeth Councils.’

Speaking to the AJ earlier this week Robert Tincknell, managing director of developer Treasury Holdings UK (the majority shareholder in REO), said he was happy with progress of the planning process and believed the scheme could go before a planning committee either in late summer or early autumn.

‘Depending on the outcome of that, which we are hopeful will be positive, construction should start on the site in 12-18 months after and the project should be completed around 2012,’ said Tincknell.


Strategic planning application stage 1 referral - Conclusion

  • Retail: a retail assessment has been undertaken in line with London Plan policy 3D.2; however, further work is required in order to ensure full compliance with policies 3D.1 and 3D.2.
  • Office development: the provision of new office development in the CAZ complies with London Plan policies 3B.2, 3B.3 and 5G.3.
  • Housing: in the absence of an affordable housing offer, the application does not currently comply with London Plan policies 3A.9, 3A.10 and 3A.5.page 44
  • Transport: in its present form, the transport assessment is not sufficiently robust to demonstrate the impacts of the proposal on the public transport and local highway network, and does not therefore comply with London Plan policies 3C.1 and 3C.2. The proposed level of car parking is excessive for this CAZ location and does not comply with London Plan policy 3C.23. In addition, further work is needed to ensure the application fully complies with London Plan policies 3C.17, 3C.20, 3C.22, 3C.25 and 6A.4.
  • Urban design and strategic views: the master plan responds well to the site context and constraints in terms of height, bulk and massing. However, further work on a number of detailed issues is needed before the application can be considered compliant with London Plan policies 4B.1, 4B.2, 4B.3, 4B.5 and 4B.8.
  • Children’s play space: in its present form, the application does not demonstrate adequate provision for children’s play space and is not therefore compliant with London Plan policy 3D.13.
  • Social and community infrastructure: the applicant has assessed the impact of the new population on social and community infrastructure provision. In its present form the application complies with London Plan 5E.1, 3A.18, 3A.21 and 3A.24; however, this may need to be re-assessed depending on the level of affordable housing and mix of units.
  • Climate change: insufficient information has been provided in the energy strategy. As a result in its current form the application does not comply with London Plan policies 4A.1 to 4A.7. The applicant’s commitment to sustainability measures complies with London Plan policies 4A.3, 4A.9, 4A.10, 4A.11 and 4A.14.
  • Flood risk: a flood risk assessment has been undertaken and the application complies with London Plan policies 4A.12 and 4A.13.
  • Blue ribbon network: the provision of a new pier and increased public access to the riverside are welcomed in line with London Plan policies 4C.7 and 4C.11. Further work is required before the application can be considered fully compliant with policies 4C.10 and 4C.11.
  • Safeguarded wharves: the application does not currently comply with London Plan policy 4C.9 because it has not been designed to minimise the potential for conflicts of use and disturbance between the existing safeguarded wharves and the new development.
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