The road to hell


On Tuesday, on the casting vote of the Chair Lambeth’s planning committee approved the development of the land at 8 Albert Embankment and behind it. This was in the face of much local resistance with the support of we three local councillors in Princes Ward and Florence Eshalomi our Assembly Member and Labour PPC in the forthcoming General Election.

This is what I said on the night:

 The road to hell is paved with good intentions.  None of the parties to this development have bad intentions

  • U and I have developed good quality schemes that I have seen.
  • The Fire Brigade is seeking to maximise its revenues to repair its aging estate, continue its service locally and create a new museum .
  • Lambeth Council and the Mayor’s office are seeking to regenerate an area that has been derelict for years, create new jobs, and bring ‘affordable’ housing to the site.

But is seems to me that each of the parties ambitions have led to a scheme that is out of scale for the site and will create a ‘hell’ for many local people, businesses and institutions.

I have written in detail to Planning Committee but in headlines

  • Whitgift House and the park will lose significant amounts of their daylight.
  • The listed headquarters of the fire station will be vandalised with accretions on top, a sort of see through top hat, and a great growth on the back that will obscure the historic views of an operational fire station that at its inception was the an example to the whole world.
  • There are also persuasive arguments that the sort of jobs we would expect from one of our rare KIBA areas will not be forthcoming.
  • And finally I believe that this over-development will lead to traffic management issues that will clog up Black Prince Road, Lambeth High Street and Newport Street and damage the environment.

I am sad that during the process of creating this scheme there were no wiser heads to argue for a smaller development that, though it might not have brought the funds the fire brigade anticipate or the profits U and I hope for, would have better suited the area.

It is also sad that tonight this scheme has pitted local people against the firefighters who serve them.

PAC’s unenviable role this evening is to bring common sense to this proposal and reject it in the hope of a more modest scheme being re-presented in the future.

This is just one of many local developments proposed, agreed or in the pipeline and I do wonder how much development such a small area can take and where we draw the line.

Cllr. Jon Davies.

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