We were a bit late in responding to the 2020 planning application unfortunately but in the spirit of better-late-than-never, and that WF will tell you that they will consider comments received even if late, we have submitted this letter.
We had responded to the original application back in 2017 (which is attached to our letter) and as this was approved, chose to only respond to the detailed elements that formed part of this new application; namely the changes to the public space and detailed information for the residential part of the proposals. (The original application was a hybrid one that sought only outline approval for this; we were not at all convinced about this approach given the scale of the proposals. )
So we suspect most notably we haven’t commented on the height, since this was effectively approved as part of the previous application. Clearly this is of significant concern to a lot of people, and we did have our own issues back in 2017. Fundamentally, it must be said, we tend not to object to height (although here it is very tall), providing it is justified for the location and the design is really good, but the very fact that it was an outline application meant that it could not be demonstrated. You will see from our letter that there are some fundamental attributes of the residential design that scream over-development and poor consideration, and maybe if the impact of the quantity of homes or floor space was properly understood earlier, then the proposals could be better and more sustainable.
We are very interested in the changing idea of what London’s suburban centres might be, which could not be seen more than in these proposals compared to the current low density, sprawling design of the shopping centre and open space that was conceived in the 1980’s. We remain frustrated at the lack of rigour that has been applied to the new more square-like square than the present ‘Town Square’, especially given the considerable loss of public space; owing to the lack of (at least any published) consideration of all sides of it, and the elephant-in-the-room building that contains the Natwest bank. We have asked persistently about this and have been told that it cannot be addressed as the bank has a long lease, but this seems extremely short sighted and lacking in vision.
For information and future reference, the applicant’s Design and Access Statement is here.