Current Issues, updated 15 August 2020
(scroll down for traffic issues, aerial masts, and all other topics)
The Mortlake Brewery
On 14 August 2020, news reached us that the Mayor of London has received the revised plans for the Brewery development. We have started to plough through the documentation and will be doing a write-up for our website shortly but if you would like to see it you can click here.
In the meantime, the background story to date is as follows: The site was sold in 2015 and we have been involved in the plans for redevelopment of the site from the outset. We have collaborated with the locally based Mortlake Brewery Community Group and have attended meetings alongside them with the developer’s representatives and with the Council. To ease the pre-application process the Council had already adopted a Planning Brief for the site in 2011 which advocated housing and community use, a primary school and retention of the playing fields, also restoration of the maltings, hotel and bottling plant and creation of a green corridor from Mortlake Green to the river. The brief did not specify the number of housing units but a consultation document at the time indicated a figure of max. 560 units.
Alas the Government’s Department for Education made life complicated by insisting that our area should accommodate a new secondary school for around 1,200 pupils and the Council decided that the Brewery site should be the best location for it. This became included in the update of the Council’s Local Plan in 2016 together with the “re-provision” of the playing fields. The upshot at the first public exhibition of the developer’s proposals was a massive redevelopment of the site including over 900 units, replacement of the grass playing fields with a single all-weather pitch and the reconfiguration of the Chalkers Corner junction, including landtake from the front gardens of Chertsey Court, to allow an increase in traffic capacity to serve the development.
A key issue relating to the site is the lack of good access off Lower Richmond Road which is gridlocked in peak hours caused by severe constraints at both Chalkers Corner and the Sheen Lane level crossing, whose barriers are down for much of the peak hour period. We organised – and funded – a video survey of traffic conditions at this level crossing. The reconfiguration of Chalkers Corner and its damaging impact on Chertsey Court will not ease traffic conditions in Lower Richmond Road because the level crossing will forever remain a problem. We have indicated all along that these two pinchpoints dictate the extent of development allowable on the Brewery site.
The planning applications for (A) the Brewery redevelopment including 817 units, (B) the school and (C) Chalkers Corner followed in early 2018. We contributed extensively to the 125-page response of the Mortlake Brewery Community Group on applications A and C providing expertise in planning, traffic, and environmental impact to add to their expertise in architecture and landscape. We also contributed extensively to the 45-page response on application B maintaining that there is no proven need for it and that the current primary school population can be accommodated in further expansion of the existing secondary schools in the area. We also separately submitted one-page objections to all three planning applications highlighting contravention with a number of policies in the Council’s Local Plan.
The developer produced revised plans in the summer of 2019 which showed inter alia the reduction of housing units from 817 to 813. Our objections remained the same as before. The Council considered all three planning applications in January 2020 and decided first to refuse application C and then to approve applications A and B subject to direction from the Mayor of London. In May 2020 the Mayor called in all three applications for his own determination primarily in order to engineer an increase in the affordable housing content. He has arranged a public hearing on Thursday 26 Nov, for which the deadline for response is 27 Sept.
Meanwhile, the Council has granted planning permission for temporary use of the Brewery site as a film studio, to which we did not object.
Homebase, Manor Road
Although outside our area we nevertheless made a representation on the planning application to redevelop this site for a high density housing development of 385 units including 35% affordable, our main concern being the knock-on effect on traffic in our area and the generation of yet more passengers at North Sheen Station onto the Waterloo-bound trains which are already full in the morning peak by the time they reach Mortlake Station. We also showed concern about passengers from our area taking the train to North Sheen where they have to climb two footbridges to reach the south side of the level crossing in Manor Road. There is an opportunity here for improvement to station access. The Mayor of London has called in the application for his own determination in order to engineer an increase in the affordable housing content – now 453 units including 40% affordable – and he has arranged a public hearing at City Hall on Thursday 1 Oct.
We gave support in principle to the outline planning application for redevelopment of the hospital to provide a health centre, a Special Education Needs school and 83 housing units. We regretted the demolition of 5 of the 8 Buildings of Townscape Merit on the site, these being ward buildings that did not lend themselves to re-use, but we were pleased to see the three smaller BTMs by the entrance gate retained. We registered concern about the access in South Worple Way both via the narrow streets from the west and via White Hart Lane in the east where right turning traffic from the north causes blockage at the level crossing. These issues must be resolved at the detailed stage to follow.
There have been two planning applications for aerial masts in our railway corridor which are for the benefit of train passengers, one on the roof of a block of flats in Rosemary Gardens and the other a free-standing 15m high mast at the bus-turn around in North Worple Way. MESS objected to both, to the former on grounds of its impact on the Conservation Area and to the latter on grounds of being highly exposed and very conspicuous (unlike other aerial masts recently installed in the borough which are neatly integrated with trees). The Council has refused both applications on the grounds of having an intrusive and incongruous form which would adversely affect Conservation Areas (Mortlake Green in the first application and nearby Queens Road in the second).
The applicant has now (August 2020) submitted a revised scheme for the mast at the bus turnaround reducing its height to 12.5m and changing its colour from green to brown to resemble a telegraph pole. The applicant states that the proposed development “is not considered to be overly noticeable” and “seeks to protect the setting and character of the Queens Road Conservation Area”. However, there are no photomontages to support these statements and we have insisted on seeing some before making our final verdict which will very probably be negative.
Other Recent Applications
In addition to the above we have commented on the following recent planning applications of note in our area:
- Home Guard site: swimming pool. We supported this in principle but were concerned about access/parking, noise of plant and management of pool. Council approved, overturning officer’s recommendation for refusal.
- 190 Sheen Lane: demolition to allow expansion of Tower House School. We gave this our full support, not least because it enabled removal of existing unsightly high fence. Council approved.
- 21 Sunbury Avenue: replacement house with basement. We supported this but were concerned about overlooking. Council approved.
- 1A St Leonards Road: redevelopment of warehouse for 9 homes. We were concerned about parking and overdevelopment. Council refused.
- 26-28 Priest’s Bridge: redevelopment for 7 homes and commercial floorspace. We were concerned about the displaced commercial tenants. Council approved.
- Lock-up garages, South Worple Way: redevelopment for 6 homes. We gave support in principle but were concerned about building heights and no provision of footway. Council not yet decided.
- Pure Gym, 172-176 Upper Richmond Road West: details of parking pursuant to planning approval. We were concerned about parking off-site. Council not yet decided.
- All Saints Church: solar panels. Council confirmed that this was ‘permitted development’ and hence no application was made. However, an application still had to be made to the Diocese who supported the scheme in principle but not if the building is to be listed, which it could be. Accordingly the application to the Diocese was shelved.
We do not usually get involved in proposals to further expand Heathrow because our Committee are split on this issue. It was interesting to note, however, that the Mayor’s and Council’s objections to the Government’s decision to further expand Heathrow were upheld by the Court of Appeal on 27 February 2020.
The Local Plan
We are now involved in the update of the Council’s Local Plan which was adopted in July 2018 but needs to be further updated to reflect the Mayor’s New London Plan, especially in regard to increased housing targets and its new policies concerning Metropolitan Open Land; also to take on board new policies from the Mayor and from the Council itself regarding climate change.
Planning and Environment Sub-Group
To cope with this workload and also to enhance the MESS credibility, the Committee has approved the establishment of a Planning and Environment Sub-Group made up of architects, an engineer, landscape architect and transport planner, all drawn from the MESS membership, who meet occasionally on an ad hoc basis to help advise.
We have learnt that, following Nicky Gill’s study of the historic walls of East Sheen in 2015, the Council two years later designated several such walls as of ‘Townscape Merit’ thereby affording some degree of protection – and we were never informed! We would not have known about this had a member of MESS not contacted our Committee this year registering concern about the historic wall at the end of Larches Avenue. We asked Patience Trevor of our Sub-Group (formerly of English Heritage) to look into the matter and it was she who discovered that several walls had been designated as of ‘Townscape Merit’. Unfortunately the wall in Larches Avenue was not included and we are proposing to add this to the list – together with a number of walls in Mortlake.
East Sheen Parkside Low Traffic Neighbourhood Plan
The Council implemented temporary traffic measures in Palmerston Road in 2018 and in Temple Sheen Road and Coval Road in 2019 to deter rat-running traffic emerging from Richmond Park (some of it being traffic thwarted by the closure of Hammersmith Bridge in April 2019 and detouring to Chiswick Bridge). Our Society participated in the Council’s consultation on these measures – and also on its concept of implementing a Controlled Parking Zone covering the whole area of Parkside (from Richmond Park to the Upper Richmond Road) – but was very aware of a difference of opinion not only among residents generally but among its membership in particular. In January 2010 the Council cancelled its temporary traffic measures and shelved its consultation for a whole year in the knowledge of the forthcoming Richmond Park Traffic Management Plan.
Our Society is represented on a working group that has been set up to keep a watching brief while the consultation is in abeyance.
Richmond Park Traffic Management Plan
From mid-March to mid-August 2020 visitors to Richmond Park enjoyed the peace and quiet brought about by lockdown. This came to an end on 15 August 2020 when traffic was allowed to return to the road from Roehampton Gate to Richmond Gate, (but restricted from Monday to Friday) and on the road from Richmond Gate to Ham Gate and Kingston Gate on all days of the week. The rest of the circuit road was re-opened for access to car parks only and the link road from Sheen Gate into the Park remains closed.
The key element of this Plan for us is the closure of this link road which:
- will transfer the problem of commuter traffic penetration (guided by satnav) from the back streets of East Sheen Parkside to the area beyond Richmond Gate; but
- may frustrate residents of East Sheen who would be unable to drive through the Park to Pembroke Lodge, the Isabella Plantation or, more importantly, Kingston Hospital.
The traffic measures have been introduced on a 6-month trial basis and there will be a consultation exercise during November-December.
Our newsletter of 15 August 2020 has given a background to the traffic management plan including the need to reduce commuter traffic through the Park but also explaining the difficulty of removing it entirely. Members have been invited to comment on the plan and to suggest amendments, e.g. the opening of the link road from say 10.00am to 4.00pm.
As mentioned above, the closure of Hammersmith Bridge in April 2019 has caused a diversion of traffic via East Sheen to Chiswick Bridge. The Richmond Park Traffic Management Plan has effectively extended the diversion from Sheen Gate to Richmond Gate. Our Society has been liaising with TfL to get Hammersmith Bridge restored as soon as possible but TfL funds have suffered under lockdown and it is now up to Central Government to foot the bill. On 14 August the bridge was closed due to widening cracks. Our Society is determined that the Government must act now.