Princes Ward Covid survey

If you are curious to see how one slice of London society dealt with the pandemic (so far) here are the results of the survey we carried out in Princes Ward. There were in addition individual comments which, where appropriate, we have looked into and tried to sort out.

Thanks to the 111 people who took part and hope you all find this interesting.

How did the pandemic affect your contact with the community?

I’d like to say thanks to all the Lambeth Staff who kept going whether on the streets, in the food hubs or working from home with a special thanks to the Library Service who did some amazingly creative things.

Email me if you want to ask any questions: jdavies4@lambeth.gov.uk

Cllr. Jon Davies.

A local tragedy

There is real shock and sadness in Kennington at the death of  Jahreau Shepherd who died after a knife attack during a peaceful barbecue celebrating his 30th birthday.

To the press this might just be another statistic but Jahreau’s death is a tragedy, not just for his family but for our wider community.

I first got to know him a little when he was eight and finding school life at Vauxhall Primary difficult. I was Chair of Governors and with the head Sean Frolish met him and his mum to try and sort things out.  I have clear memories of how passionate an advocate she was for Jahreau and we did our best to make sure he got the education he deserved. I wish I could be certain we succeeded.

He went on to Pimlico School and was a schoolmate of my sons. So I heard about him from time to time with interest.  But life was hard for him, he came under some negative influences, and went to prison.

But that was not the end of Jahreau’s story. He rebuilt his life, was a mentor to local kids, excelled in sports and had become a community leader among our local youth. His death is being mourned in many local institutions where he was making a difference.

In the photos you will see the astonishing memorial that people are tending day and night. There is talk of some permanent memorial to him which I would support.

If you’d like to know more there are many websites and groups talking about him – just google his name.

Cllr Jon Davies.

PS – There were rumours around that the council had asked for the display to be taken down. This is not true. The display is being kept in a wonderful state by dedicated volunteers.

This is what the council Leader’s office said:

Mr Raj Mistry head of the Council’s streets has been alerted that that the tributes are to remain and I would like to offer the reassurance of the Leader that there are no plans to remove these at the present time, nor have any such plans been discussed at this time.

 

Roadwork on Kennington Road and a tree in Walcot Square.

In case you wondered why Kennington Road is being dug up again a little over a year after the last time…

It’s to lay several more electric mains to serve the new developments at Vauxhall Cross. They are likely to be clear from Kennington Road this week and then will make their way to Vauxhall via Sancroft Street , Jonathan Street and Vauxhall Walk.

I asked why they had not thought ahead but it comes down to ‘costing too much to put in cables’ when the plans are not certain for the future. What a waste of time and what a lot of inconvenience.

Tree issue in Walcot Square

The Walcot Foundation believe that the large Cherry Tree in the square will have to come down as it is dangerous. They report the details here.

Thanks to everyone who brought it to our attention.

Cllr Jon Davies.

PS Has everyone done our Princes Ward under Covid survey yet?

If you have two minutes please fill in our questionnaire. Your answers will be confidential and anonymous. Here is the link:

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/KHSVF3C

 

Our statement on the Woodlands Development

Screenshot 2020-06-25 at 19.45.32

Dear Planning Inspector,

Prince’s ward Councillors letter of objection to the Woodlands Nursing Home site development

I am Councillor Joanne Simpson and I am writing to you on behalf of the three Labour Party ward Councillors for Prince’s ward. We are writing to object to the erection of a 29-storey tower at the former Woodlands Nursing Home in the heart of Kennington.

The ward we represent encompasses Vauxhall and Kennington. In Vauxhall, we represent a swathe of the riverfront which is within the Vauxhall & Nine Elms Boundary (VNEB) and Central Activities Zone (CAZ). Over the years we have watched this area transform with the construction of high-rise tower blocks, some we have supported, some less so. Regardless, these tall buildings have been designed with the Vauxhall SPD in mind, which has allowed for cohesive development within high-rise clusters, with the riverfront being able to absorb the height of the structures, thus ensuring they look appropriate for what is a fast-changing area of Vauxhall and Nine Elms.

Kennington, however, is nothing like Vauxhall. It is not near the riverfront. It is not within either the VNEB or the CAZ. It has a distinctively village-like feel with pockets of early 19th-Centry two to three storey terraces such as St Mary’s Gardens and Walcot Square, both of which are regularly used for filming, and picturesque terraces from the early 1990s like Denny Crescent and Cardigan Street. Where more modern and high-rise development exists, this is of high quality design and within clusters, like the three Cotton Gardens Estate towers designed by architect George Finch in the 1960s, and the more recent Ethelred Towers, to whose three towers the Council recently added a fourth, thus retaining the cluster. None of these blocks are above 22 storeys. The remainder of Kennington is a mix of low rise terraces and purpose-built inter-war housing estates averaging no more than six storeys.

What is being proposed in the heart of Kennington village is a stand-alone monstrosity of a tower 29 storeys in height. It has a poor design in itself, and does not relate to any of its surrounding neighbours or the character of the area in either height, scale, mass, design or bulk. Its excessive height and sub-standard design would render it highly visible: the first thing you would notice when standing at Kennington Cross, walking up Kennington Lane or enjoying one of the picturesque squares. It would loom over Kennington, appearing incongruous, unneighbourly, unduly prominent and totally out of keeping with the area.

The appellant makes reference to the recently-constructed tall buildings in Elephant and Castle. However, this is not Elephant and Castle – the application site is in Kennington, which does not comprise of the same built-up character and form of the Elephant. The site is too far away from tall buildings in neighbouring Southwark to be considered a cluster. The development would be an eyesore and its height and design and wholly inappropriate for this area.

As Councillors for the area we would also like to strongly support our residents’ objections to the application on the grounds of the unacceptable loss of outlook and light many of our neighbours will experience as a result of this unacceptably designed proposal. We have been contacted by hundreds of residents who are concerned about this, in particular those living on Brook Drive, Castlebrook Close, Dante Road and Wilmot House and Bolton House on George Mathers Road.

Many of these residents will also lose precious sunlight to their cherished outdoor spaces. Being London, private outdoor amenity space is sparse. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown now more than ever how important it is to have good quality housing, and if you are lucky, a little outdoor space. To have this compromised by a development which fails to provide an adequate level of truly ‘affordable’ (i.e. not the definition in inverted commas foisted upon us by the Government) is an insult. These new homes will not be available for local people and we struggle to see the benefit to the community of this development.

Even those who might be lucky enough to acquire one of these new flats cannot expect to have a good quality home. The units provided within Block A would have poor levels of daylight and any future children would have to contend with an inadequate standard of playspace which the appellant has failed to demonstrate is either safe or usable, never mind of a decent enough quality for children to play in.

We, as the three ward councillors, really struggle to see what the benefits of this development might be that would outweigh the significant harm caused to the character of the area and nearby heritage assets, the unacceptable impact on neighbouring amenities, the substandard quality of the new homes and outdoor areas and playspace, and the unacceptable lack of genuinely affordable housing.

We would like to end our representation by thanking the many residents who have contacted us with their worries and concerns about this huge tower, during what has been a long drawn out saga where, from what we can gather, the appellant has not collaboratively engaged with the Council to reach a scheme which would comply with Lambeth’s Local Plan. Particular thanks goes to the Stop the Blocks group, Cleaver Square and Bowden Residents’ Association and Vanbrugh Court Residents’ Association, as well as the many individuals who have come to our Councillor surgeries or called or emailed with their anxieties.

As Labour Councillors, we strive to represent those whose voice is not always as loud as others. We can genuinely say that Kennington residents are united in their opposition to this huge tower. Thank you for your time taking our representation into consideration.

Best wishes,

Councillors Joanne Simpson, Jon Davies and David Amos

Labour Councillors for Prince’s ward

A photo treat

I asked Berkeley Homes, the developers building on the Tesco/Gasholder site, if they would take some pictures of our area from the top of their big crane.

Here they are:

Cllr Jon Davies

PS Have you done our Live under Covid survey yet?

As ward councillors we are keen to find out what the experience of lockdown has been as we prepare for Lambeth’s return to normal.

If you have two minutes please fill in our questionnaire. Your answers will be confidential and anonymous. Here is the link:

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/KHSVF3C

 

8 Albert Embankment/The Fire Station

As ward councillors we have been determined to oppose this development believing it to be out of scale for the site. It will now be subject to a public enquiry. We support having an enquiry and will be giving evidence.

For those who would like to know the detail of our objections here they are as presented back in December to Lambeth’s planning committee by Cllr. Simpson:

 

8 Albert Embankment: Representation from Cllr Joanne Simpson – Prince’s ward Councillor

Dear Committee colleagues,

I have stood down from Planning Committee this evening as despite my best efforts, I have inevitably had some involvement with this application on a ward Councillor level and do not feel I can approach the decision with an open mind.

I am aware that my ward colleague, Cllr Jon Davies, has submitted a representation on behalf of residents that he and Cllr David Amos, have been working with throughout the lifetime of the most recent application for this site. I would like to raise with you my concerns that I have with my ‘planning committee’ hat on, and would be grateful if you could give the below points/concerns/questions due consideration as part of your deliberations this evening.

Land Use / Principle of Development:

Lack of marketing evidence

I am concerned that the use of the site is being classed as sui generis, despite being a designated KIBA. KIBAs are designated to ensure the retention of employment use, and in particular, industrial and business use, on a site. The site is portrayed as under-utilised, but no reasons have been given for why this is the case. My opinion is that it is not currently in use because the LFB has for many years failed to market it adequately. Were the land considered a Use Class B, the applicant would be required, as per Local Plan policy, to provide marketing evidence to demonstrate that there is no market appetite for its continuation. Whilst I appreciate that the scheme will result in an uplift in employment space, the introduction of residential in the KIBA is a departure from policy, unless it can be demonstrated that there are exceptional reasons for the delivery of an acceptable scheme. I believe that marketing evidence ought to have been submitted, in order to support the applicant’s claim that the residential use is required. 

Affordable housing mix

It is totally unacceptable that there are no family sized dwellings in the affordable housing offer (note by this I mean affordable rented and social rented, not shared ownership which is not genuinely affordable in North Lambeth). There are only one-bed units offered for social rented (housing this area badly needs) and one and two-bed properties in affordable rented. Two points on this below:

  1. The report states that according to the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), family-sized homes are not a priority in this area. This is not borne out in my Councillor surgeries, where every month I meet dozens of families living in desperate, crowded and unsatisfactory housing conditions. This development is right in the heart of Whitgift Estate, a Lambeth estate, and next door to Vauxhall Garden’s Estate, the largest Council estate in the Borough. There are very real, existing communities living here in Council blocks, many of whom require rehousing. Prince’s ward is absolutely no different to any other area of Lambeth in this respect.
  2. The report states that two-bed properties can be considered family-sized. Why then, when I recently objected to a planning application on Vauxhall Gardens Estate which proposed the conversion of a two-bed flat into two units, on the grounds it would result in the loss of a family-sized dwelling, was a told that this concern could not be considered because two-bed properties are not treated as family units when assessing the acceptability of conversions – only 3+ bedrooms were. Policy is policy and its application must be consistent, otherwise the Council is in danger of cherry picking.

Affordable Housing offer

Policy requires 50% per unit and yet 39% is included. Given the need to justify the introduction of residential in the KIBA, this ought to be 50%. Whilst it may be true that the viability assessment demonstrates that the scheme cannot deliver more, this is a separate point that in order to justify the introduction of residential in the KIBA and the departure from the tall buildings restriction in the site allocation, this scheme needs to over-deliver on this, not under-deliver.

Gym

This D1 use is neither industrial/business or even residential, and therefore there is no justification for it being in the KIBA. There is a perfectly good gym round the corner on Black Prince Road at the Black Prince Hub. What is the policy justification for its inclusion in the scheme, in particular, within the KIBA?

Hotel

There is an abundance of hotels in North Lambeth, in Vauxhall and Waterloo in particular, so much so that officers are proposing in the draft Revised Local Plan to ‘not allow further hotel developments in Waterloo and set a cap on new hotel bedspaces in Vauxhall’. The application site is located between Waterloo and Vauxhall, where it is recognised that there is an existing over-saturation of hotels. The draft London Plan also states that the Council proposes  ‘encourage new hotels to locate in appropriate town centres elsewhere in Lambeth [i.e. not Vauxhall or Waterloo]’ and ‘require hotel developers to assess the impact of their proposal on local services and neighbours’ and ‘not restrict the supply of land needed for new housing’. Some points below:

  1. The delivers a below-policy requirement of affordable housing, and so land needed for new housing is being restricted.
  2. The hotel has an unacceptable impact on the local area, with regards to traffic impact, noise and air pollution, as discussed in more detail in sections below.
  3. The report states that policy officers raise no objection. Why then is hotel development to be restricted in the revised Local Plan? In order for a Local Plan to be considered sound by the Secretary of State, evidence must be required to justify policies. There is therefore evidence that it is damaging and undesired allow additional hotel development in North Lambeth.

Office use

Recently PAC considered a scheme at nearby Westminster Tower, also on 8 Albert Embankment, which proposed the conversion of office space into residential. Officers recommended approval on the grounds that its location, in between both Vauxhall and Westminster tubes but not close enough to either, meant that there was no demand for office space in this location, and that the market wanted office space in Vauxhall town centre instead. This application site is in the same area. What evidence has been provided to demonstrate that the officer advice given to PAC members recently no longer applies?

 

Design/Character/Appearance/Layout

Para 8.2.7 of the report states that the Council’s Design and Conservation Team’s comments and those of the GLA and Historic England have been incorporated into the report. I would ask that it is made clear at Committee which consultee said what about each particular aspect, otherwise there might a risk of cherry picking in order to present the ‘expert advice’ as more unified and positive than it necessarily is.

Tall buildings

Point iv of the Site 10 Allocation in the Local Plan is very clear about the non-acceptability of tall buildings in this site: ‘the heritage sensitivity of the site makes it inappropriate for tall building development’. Further to this, though not as imperative as the Site Allocation, the Vauxhall SPD area falls within a location identified as being ‘sensitive’ to tall buildings’. Some points below:

  1. The Site Allocation was included in the most recently-adopted Local Plan and as far as I am aware, there are no proposals to amend it in emerging revised Plan. The current Plan was assessed by the Planning Inspector/ Secretary of State and found to be sound. This assessment was undertaken after the area was designated a CAZ and part of the VNEB (where tall buildings are encouraged), and so the inclusion of a restriction on tall buildings on this particular site was done so for good reason.
  2. Last month I joined some of you in the assessment of the Lambeth College site, where a 20-storey tower was approved, despite it being taller than the existing building form of the locality. Please note, however, that whilst this site is also in the VNEB, it differs from the College scheme in that a) there is a significant number of heritage assets within the immediate and surrounding vicinity, b) there are strategically important views to consider, and c) the Site Allocation specifically states that tall buildings are not acceptable (for reasons a and b).

Rear of the Fire HQ

The rear of this building has architectural and historic interest in that it still boasts largely intact features such as tiered balconies and viewing platforms, which formed an integral part of the operational use of the building at the time. I object to the proposed extension at the rear which would remove these features and replace them with a uniform and ugly building which fails to appear a proportionate or subordinate addition to the host building; neither does it respect the original form or its historic interest which is mentioned in its listing.

New public realm

Little information is provided regarding the conditions of the proposed public realm, with regards levels of sunlight/daylight receives, noise ambience and wind levels, given the height and massing of the buildings proposed on site. New public realm that is not of an excellent and attractive quality, ought not to be presented as a public benefit of a scheme, where in reality spaces are not well-used, such as the dark and windy ‘public spaces’ at St Georges Wharf, Vauxhall.

Neighbouring Amenities:

Impact on Daylight/Sunlight/Outlook

The Council’s own housing department has formally objected to the proposal on the grounds of impact to Lambeth Council homes including impact on light, green spaces, increase in traffic and health and safety concerns. I may have missed it, but I cannot recall in my 6 years sitting PAC seeing an objection from Lambeth Housing. These concerns ought to be given serious consideration. Residents, together with Cllr Davies, have highlighted the main issues, but I did want to raise some further points/questions below:

  1. I understand from Cllrs Amos and Davies, who accompanied residents on a door-knocking exercise of Whitgift House, that the internal layout of this block is very different to that of Arne House, which the Inspector considered as part of the Graphite Square Appeal scheme, Prince’s ward. Unlike Arne House, it is living rooms, i.e. primary habitable rooms, which face the proposal site, and not galley kitchens and/or secondary bedrooms. The Inspector’s comment therefore need to be read with this in mind and be considered in this context.
  2. Much is made about the BRE assessment of light levels; however, it should be remembered that the assessment of outlook and a sense of enclosure caused by a development is somewhat different. The sheer height of the proposals and the intense density of the sight combined will lead to an undue sense of enclosure and unacceptable loss of outlook for residents.
  3. Para 8.3.17 of the report states that ‘[t]he noise impact on residents of the development are considered to acceptable subject to mitigation’. This is in reference to new residents in the proposed blocks. If the noise levels would only be acceptable subject to mitigation, why is it also claimed in the same report that noise levels for existing residents would be acceptable? It cannot be both.
  4. Point vi of the Site 10 Allocation in the Local Plan states that the Council will support development on this site that ‘makes sure both existing and new residential amenity is protected’. This is not the case.

Beaconsfield Gallery

I have previously enquired at the latest technical briefing about the impact of the proposal on Beaconsfield Gallery, which is an art gallery and exhibition spaces which immediately adjoins the East Site. There is no mention of this in the report. Whilst I appreciate that it is not residential, the Planning Inspector for the recent Graphite Square Appeal did consider the impact of the proposal on Walkers Books publishers, even visiting inside the premises as part of his site visit, and concluded in his Decision that it was a material planning consideration, despite not being residential.

Housing Standards

How many of the proposed units are genuinely dual aspect, as defined in Lambeth’s policy?

That there is a complete lack of provision for playspace for older children demonstrates that the application is over dense. Time and time again this is justified by officers by way of a financial contribution to nearby parks. This is not sustainable.

Transport:

Impact of the hotel

A hotel of 200 bedrooms will result in a substantial increase in vehicular traffic, both in terms of servicing and taxi usage. Some points below:

  1. The report estimates that the proposal will generate a total of 803 2-way (therefore 1,606 in total) trips in the am peak with 879 2-way (1,758 in total) in the pm peak hour. That is huge.
  2. Lambeth High Street is a very narrow street, and there is an existing problem of bottlenecks at the junction with Black Prince Road, which is a danger in particular to cyclists. This problem will only increase. I understand that a Servicing/Traffic Management Plan is suggested via condition. However, this does not in itself guarantee that an acceptable solution or situation is possible. An area with narrow streets serving a highly dense housing estate is simply not appropriate for a hotel.
  3. Hotel users invariable use taxis. Remember that this area was advised by officers as being inappropriate for office space (during the consideration of the Westminster Tower scheme) on account of it not being near a tube. Whilst the PTAL is excellent, this tool is arbitrary and hotel users will not want travel on local buses with their luggage. They will use taxis. The report states that thete are taxi ranks within approx.. 200m of the site. Googlemaps states that this distance is 9 minute walk. It is therefore unlikely that hotel customers will walk to taxi rank and will instead call an uber. Where will these ubers park and has this been factored into the transport assessment? I see no mention of it.
  4. Point x of the Site 10 Allocation in the Local Plan states that the Council will support development on this site that would ‘reduce traffic dominance and promote walking and cycling’. I feel to see how this can realistically be achieved; indeed the problems with traffic will only become worse to an unacceptable level.

Air Quality

Para. 8.9.10 refers to the ‘limited traffic’ generated by the proposal. I would suggest that this will not be the case, particularly given the proposed hotel, and that not only will levels of daylight and outlook be unacceptability compromised for existing residents, but so too will their levels of clean air.

Thank you for your consideration.

Cllr Joanne Simpson

Labour Councillor for Prince’s ward

 

 

Black Lives Matter is a Princes Ward issue.

This may seem an obvious statement but have a look at this piece in the Standard that happened to one of my councillor colleagues Dr. Mahamed Hashi…

Screenshot 2020-06-13 at 11.49.31

A 35-year-old black Lambeth councillor and vice-chairman of several police scrutiny committees has been stopped and searched at least 60 times since he was 13 — almost always because police assume he is a drug dealer.

Mahamed Hashi, who has no police record, told the Evening Standard one of the most galling things about his experiences is that “every time I am put in handcuffs and I am always left feeling if I was white, I wouldn’t have been stopped in the first place”.

The most recent incident occurred last August when Mr Hashi, was sitting in his new BMW 5 series waiting for a friend when two white police officers knocked on his window and told him to “step out of the car”. When Mr Hashi asked why, they said it was to search him “under the Misuse of Drugs Act”.

When Mr Hashi asked what their grounds were, he was told, “you look young, your car looks expensive, we suspect you might be a drug dealer”.

He asked: “How old am I? How much did my car cost?” On both counts, the officer said he didn’t know. “So where are your grounds,” asked Mr Hashi.

A second officer started shouting “get out or be charged with obstruction”.

As soon as he stepped out, they handcuffed him. Mr Hashi said that he was told that because of his size (6ft 4in), he presented an “unknown risk”.

He added: “They searched me, found nothing, and said I had to sit in the police van while they went through my car. Again they refused my request to take off the cuffs. After 20 minutes, they told me I was free to go. They never once apologised for putting an innocent person in cuffs.”

Unbeknown to the officers, Mr Hashi is deputy chairman of a police-convened public order group at Scotland Yard as well as vice chairman of an independent advisory group for Trident, and had previously been chairman of the Stop and Search monitoring group in Lambeth.

When Mr Hashi contacted the commander of the police unit who had stopped him and complained informally, she promised to investigate and he received an apology.

Mr Hashi said the entire interaction was captured on the policeman’s body-worn camera. The fact that Mr Hashi had access to the top command made him “confident and patient there would be consequences”, he said.

Mr Hashi added that the matter was closed as far as he was concerned, but that he wanted wider lessons to be learned. “I told the police that I want what happened to be used as a training tool to show what a bad search looks like and how it leaves people feeling.”

A Met spokesman said: “Officers engaged with the man to listen to his concerns that he felt the main reason he had been stopped was his ethnicity. As a result, learning has been incorporated into training packages delivered to officers to improve the stop and search process.”

Despite his repeated experiences, Mr Hashi is a voice of hope on the subject of public protests against disproportionate targeting of black people by police. “The protests are useful because they show us how much deep feeling there is in our community, but we need an outlet for that feeling that leads to real change.

“What I want to see is better training of the police and for the community to be more involved in mechanisms that hold them to account. I am pleased that some elements of the police are making sure their recruits meet the community as part of their training. We need our police to be more representative of the black community as well.”

Cllr. Jon Davies, white, stopped twice by police in 65 years.

Apologies to Cardigan Street cyclists…

The list of new cycle hangars for the ward includes Brook Drive and Chester way later this year but we had hoped to have some in Cardigan Street.  We decided against as some residents felt that these cycle hangars are at odds with a conservation area. Others worried that they could block ambulances and daylight to their home. I attach some photos which try and show that a. they are no taller than many cars, b. they are no longer than many cars and c. provide six parking spaces instead of one.

As to how a discreet green box is any less ‘conservation area’ than a car I can’t understand. Post-covid with a desire for cleaner air and a safer, quieter city these are discussions we will be having more frequently. Worth saying that two local resident’s associations are looking for more cycle parking.

Cllr. Jon Davies.

Keeping us safe after lockdown

One of the challenges after lockdown will be travelling around. How to stay 2 metres from each other on busy and sometimes narrow pavements?

Lambeth was ahead of the curve on coming up with a transport strategy which was quickly emulated by Transport for London and then the Government.

It will involve temporary extensions of pavements and on back streets ‘modal filtering’ that will allow cars to reach their homes but rat-running will be prevented.

Here is an example being put forward by some local people to end the through traffic on Renfrew Road and in consequence Gilbert Road,  Wincott Street and Reedworth Street. It should help social distancing and if it proves popular locally can be made permanent later.

Tranquil Triangle-8779

Thanks to Crispin Hughes for the rough mock-up.  I am also suggesting we do something similar on Fitzalan Street by the park and entrance to Walnut Tree Walk.

If you have ideas you can put them on this map

And here is Lambeth’s overall policy that is proving so ground-breaking.

Cllr. Jon Davies