Category Archives: Proposal response

The Homebase Site

Homebase hadn’t really come up much before at our meetings until a couple of months ago.  It turns out that quite a few of AE17 really quite like it, and visit regularly for paint, tools and miscelaneous garden assessories.  We were collectively then quite sad to hear that the site had been sold, and our trips for DIY supplies and tools were going to take a bit longer, and probably a car ride rather than a walk to the sheds on the North Circular.  Nevertheless, we could see how the site might be attractive for residential development, and we were keen to see what opportunities might be  developed.

In our June 2020 meeting over Zoom we had a flick through the ‘consultation’ website and information available, keen of course to find out what might be planned for the site.   To cut to the chase, our response we considered returning to the consultancy running the consultation and community engagement was “we think you’ve missed a few pages off”.  There were some very informative pages concerning who was involved, what the planning policy context was, the usual references to William Morris, and a lot of stuff based on an observation that Forest Road links the Lea Valley and the less forest-y part of Epping Forest.  We couldn’t help but find this somewhat of a stretched starting point, given the two green spaces, whilst they do indeed nicely define the urban limits of Walthamstow, are some 2 miles apart and don’t on the face of it have much to do with the site over any other location along the Forest Road.  We could not help but think that this, and the lack of any further information about the built proposals that inevitably would  have been developed quite far by June 2020 when a planning application was due in August, was therefore a rather thinly disguised ploy to hide the fact that that the proposals would be controversial.   Consultation?  (We could not help but be reminded of the consultation for the development of the Mall, which seemed to concentrate most of all on how the remains of the public space might be landscaped).

Sure enough a month later proposals were presented in an online event, and made available for public review, and these included some dense development and buildings across the site up to 20 storeys in height.  It was not clear really how the comments that had been received from the initial consultation had impacted the design decisions of the proposals.  

Anyway, we were up for reviewing what was presented and submit comments, and we submitted a response to the consultation that you can find here.

And now we await a formal planning application, which is not yet registered.  There is  this update, which shows a few changes; storeys lopped off here and there, and some additional information about landscapng design and wall art.   The fundamental comments we had are not answered; and we eagerly await the planning application to be able to actually assess the architectural proposals.

JC

So, here we go again.

AE17 was to a large extent born off the back of the approval of the Travelodge tower at Walthamstow Central almost six years ago.  As architects and others working in the built environment, we naturally get excited about new things and well considered, rigorously designed buildings and infrastructure, and so it wasn’t so much the idea of a tall building at this location per se that got us down, it was just the mediocrity, the lack of vision and apparent disregard for the views of the local community in having it pushed through, seemingly as development for development sake.  It was boring and uninspiring, and if you’re going to have a new focal point at a town centre and city nodal point, it is here more than any place that it should be trailblazing and setting the standard for the future development and regeneration it was touted to encourage.
On Wednesday this week, the Waltham Forest Planning committee will consider the application for increased retail space and residential uses at The Mall, and, yes, we are here again.
We’ve posted previously our comments to the applicant after a discussion about the proposals in February 2017, and our response to the formal application in July.   It is clear that there is similar discontent about the proposals in all parts of the community.  This is not unusual with large development schemes, and as practicing professionals we are used to this, even like here where it can be established that there is decent scope for improvement on the existing condition.  However what grates fundamentally is a loss of opportunity to achieve something really special, given a private investor who wants to spend money and the not over-stated need to provide housing and improved town centre facilities.
A number of concerns linger, and once again these are generally concerning due process rather than the detail.  The idea of building at height here is not necessarily a problem, and good tall buildings going up both in central and outer London show that it can be acceptable if done well, and the implications carefully considered. Whilst not to everybody’s taste, Croydon is successfully delivering a cluster of tall buildings that has been thoroughly tested through urban capacity studies. Sutton, not too dissimilar to Walthamstow in terms of scale has devised its own Tall Building Strategy that is being carefully scrutinised through the Local Plan process as we speak. Brent has been through a similar process in Wembley. No need in Walthamstow. We just put them up and decide how they look afterwards.
We have fundamental issues about the idea of an outline application for the residential towers. Outline means just that. A concept without detail. The developers have submitted a “design code” but a development of this scale should undoubtedly include the most intricate level of detail for its impact to be properly discussed and understood. What cornerns us equally is that this is funadentally about delivering new housing. However the outline element is effectively a second phase that may never get delivered if it is fraught with viability issues associated with developing over a busy operational shopping centre, which itself sits over the Victoria line. So what are we left with? About a third of our public square eaten away by multi-national chain retailers?
We followed The Mall public consultation events, staged by the applicant’s skilled team.  There did seem to be some genuine space for input into the design of the public space, but to questions about the legitimacy of such a loss of public space to retail use, and strategic proposal of residential high rise?  Nothing.  That the only thing stopping the towers going higher are technical servicing and structural practicalities, and that therefore there is no contextual analysis leading what the height and massing might be, and this determining the design?  Nope.
Of course, this decision is already made by the time such consultation is carried out, and as far as these kind of consultation exercises is concerned, can only be merely tinkering at the edges.  It was hard for us to tell what exactly was significantly changed as a result of the consultation; surface materials of the public space, design of the landscaping?  Maybe, but this hardly makes this proper consultation with the community about how they think their urban environment might develop.  Ask around and many are sympathetic with the need to increase housing supply, but not at the expense of a loss of what local residents understand as being important about the place they live in.
Sadly, it is the same apparent disregard for process when it comes to the council’s CABE run Design Review Panel.  It was with some interest and hope that we were happy to see the council set this up, with CABE last year.  It is a concept that we as individual professionals in the group have lots of experience in other boroughs and understand how effective they can be, both on panels and the other side of the table.  A team of architects, landscape and urban designers, working most often on a pro-bono basis (although not CABE run panels), advise applicants from an independent perspective on behalf of the council, addressing general design, strategic moves, and probably most importantly, questioning developers briefs to their design team.  When used most effectively the panel is an asset to a council, and often a planning department is not prepared to put a project to the planning committee until the review panel gives its approval, often after multiple reviews over months of design development.
At the Mall development the last DRP review took place in March 2017.  The report clearly shows that they still have considerable misgivings about the design, but the planners seem to be content to accept minor to modest changes to proposals as a result of the process, and the applicant’s response to the panel. CABE review comments are carefully considered, and this report is seriously damning, make no mistake.  It is not just asking for a few changes around the edges, it is suspect about major aspects of the design; they do not believe the design to be exemplorary and request a fresh start with  more response to the existing context, have issues with loss of public space, over-devlopment, and nature of the outline application.  It’s a back-to-the-drawing-board response, and no doubt sits frustratingly after three review panel sessions where their comments have not been taken seriously.  In other boroughs a developer and his team would be sent away to think again before further design reviews.
With some fanfare and laudable if very broad objectives, Waltham Forest launched a “Design Charter” in 2016. Surely the method of enforcing this is via their own DRP?  Here then, the set-up unfortunately seems to be a bit of sham.  Some advice, where possible to integrate easily, has been taken on board, but the role of a DRP, on behalf of the council, should be able to fundamentally question very basic strategy, not comment on the choice of wallpaper, colour of paint, or twiddly bits on roofs.  Sadly, this might be what WF think ‘architecture’ is.
And so we come to the planning committee meeting, where the poor planning committee, at the end of several years of discussion and negotiation between the applicant and team, and the planing and regeneration departments, are supposed to understand the full extent of the proposals sufficiently to agree to their planning officer’s recommendation to approve them.  With public interest high, no doubt the hall will be busy, rightly, with very vocal aggrieved residents and voters.  Whatever the decision made, here is the knife-edge summit of the process that works for no-one; input from the community is too late for the council to process, and too late for the applicant, who, having been guided by the council officers over years of development, and spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on consultants guided by their collaboration, might have it all turned on its head by the councillors whose very leaders direct their officers.  What a mess.
It seems to be a numbers game only unfortunately; it’s about getting housing built, without any real masterplanning or the council, as representatives of their community, taking the upper hand directing private investment in strategic, joined-up, sustainable and contextual development.  This week is about getting a decision made as far in advance of next year’s local elections as possible, and pleasing the developers the council are dancing with.
Towers could be ok, the whole of the Mall could be rebuilt with housing above to a modest 5/6 storeys with some accented height, the public space could be designed with properly considered perimeter buildings, even a design destination and something of local pride.  It could be a public space integrated into the existing context, somewhere really ‘Walthamstow’, whilst still appreciating the need to intensify London’s outer centres and developed idea of what public spaces in these locations might be.    At least there could have been something tall and beautiful that might make take your eye off the Travelodge.
JC & MP
********

A few links that might be of interest:

Details about the committee meeting.
Committee and officer’s report and recommendation to the committee.
Review of the proposals by OpenDalston.
Report in the WF Echo about affordable allocation.

The Standard site, Blackhorse Road – Consultation

Public consultation took place on 23 and 25 May  for the proposed redevelopment of the site at the corner of Blackhorse Lane and Forest Road, currently occupied by the remains of The Standard pub and music venue.

The proposals include 50 new homes, a supermarket (for the applicant, TFC), and a purpose built music venue across ground floor, mezzanine and basement performance space.

We have the consultation documents below.

 

An AE17 review

We discussed this scheme at our monthly meeting, and really liked it.  Overall the proposals seem well considered and make a good use of this site, which is at a prominent key transport intersection in Walthamstow and a key part of the Blackhorse Road Area Action Plan zone.  The proportions, articulation and materials suggested reflect a level of care in the design that is quite unusual in this borough and we hope that this is a sign of improving architectural standards and expectations.

Firstly though a ‘standard’ gripe – we were disappointed that the public consultation took place at such a late stage in the design process, and that there was no Saturday event for those who cannot make a weekday 4.30 to 7.30pm slot.

Most positively, the retention of pub /music venue use on the site is great to see, and a purpose built space offers the potential to be a valuable asset to the area. We understand that the applicant has been in discussion with an acoustic specialist and several potential operators, and this has influenced the design and size of the venue, which is larger than the existing space in order to be commercially viable.

There do however need to be rigorous measures in place to protect the residential uses on the site and directly above so that the use is viable in the short and long term.  There is clearly a potential conflict between residential use and the music venue, and for this to work the construction needs to offer high acoustic insulation and other design measures to limit impact on people living within the development.  This needs to be built into the planning approval through planning conditions and the documentation required from the applicant.

The double storey height at ground level gives a civic prominence to the commercial uses over the residential above and a positive proportion to the composition.  Similarly, the incorporation of signage into the brickwork above the venue entrance not only provides identity to the building but ‘builds-in’ an important provision often overlooked and leading to unsympathetic additions to otherwise good buildings.  We would hope that equal consideration is also given to the retail signage, and that this is conditioned in a planning consent.

The residential units appear to be well planned, and although there are single aspect units, these are restricted to single bed homes.  The breaking apart of the building to the south allows sunlight to penetrate the private shared amenity space at podium level and in turn provides a visual link from the public realm.  Access to homes via a secure private external courtyard on the street-side and then from this access to the communal gardens means that this the area is likely to be well used, and therefore of good amenity value to the development.

The positive aspects of the design need to be carefully conditioned so that potential quality is not lost in design development to construction – window specification, depth of reveals, lighting, signage etc.

We hope that there is similar aspiration in the design of the immediate public realm and the road junction, which we assume will be assisted with financial contribution from the developer.  We also understand that the junction is part of Mini-Holland work, which we hope this can be designed to respond to this scheme – taking into account groups of visitors massing at the venue, or at closing time, for example.

Jonathan Crossley, Phil Nicolas, Eva Aftab, Carol James, Roland Karthaus, Rob Atkin-House, Fran Heathcote Sapey, Karen Averby, Oliver Bray

Consultation Documents

Public Consultation_Boards

Questionnaire

TFC factsheet

Quant Building, Church Hill – Application 16/1001

Update: This application was refused and taken to appeal, which was unsuccessful.  Appeal decision here.

*******

A planning application has been made for a rooftop extension to the recently renamed Quant Building on Church Hill, near the junction with Hoe Street.

Application 16/1001 is currently out to consultation, with a formal deadline of 07 June.  (Although planners will often accept comments after the statutory deadline.)

We have downloaded information from the council planning website, for easier access – see below.

To comment on this planning application, visit the WF website and quote the planning application reference 16/1001 and address 6-10 Church Hill, E17 3RY.

We would suggest that the additional stories are not the key objection here – intensification of London’s regional centres is an important part of increasing residential accommodation, and this building can probably take some extra height (providing it is proven by the applicant that there are no overlooking issues into existing adjacent properties, or significant impacts on daylighting).  The addition here is over-bearing and does not respect the quiet and restrained nature of the existing building.

WF161001 Front elevation extract

The new apartments are single aspect with half north facing, with an un-naturally lit central access corridor.

These characteristics are against GLA policy, and the proposals do not respect the Waltham Forest Urban Design SPD or LBWF Design Charter.  A prominent, gateway site demands the highest quality design, which this falls far short of.  The recorded interaction with planning officers within the Design and Access Statement indicates a process that is currently unable to secure the highest quality design, underlining the urgent need for an appropriately qualified, independent design review process.

WF161001 Design and Access Statement

WF161001 Existing CGI 001

WF161001 Proposed third floor plan

WF161001 Proposed Section

WF161001 CGI03

WF161001 CGI02

WF161001 CGI01

WF161001 Planning Statement

WF161001 Proposed fourth floor plan

WF161001 Front elevation

 

Riley’s Snooker Hall application (ref. 160785)

Updates:

22 April 2016: We note the application has been advertised for consultation in Waltham Forest News dated 18.04.16.  This starts a 21 day statutory consultation period.

14 April 2016: AE17 have submitted this response to the application.

The applicant has submitted a new application for this site, currently Riley’s Snooker Hall, at the corner of Hoe Street and Forest Road, opposite the Bell pub. (For ease of access we have downloaded information from the council website – see below.)

A planning application was submitted in 2015, which was refused by the council, and an appeal has been lodged by the developer.  AE17 submitted this response.

Should you wish to comment on the application you can do so here, or write to Waltham Forest council at dcmail@walthamforest.gov.uk.  (You should quote the application reference 160785 and your name and address.)

WF16078 Design and Access Statement

WF16078 Proposed Drawings

WF16078 Sustainability Statement

WF16078 Noise assessment

WF16078 Location Plan

WF16078 Energy Statement

WF16078 Daylight & Sunlight assessment

WF16078 Application form

WF16078 Air quality

The application was received by the council on 03.03.16.

 

South Grove Planning Application 2016 – App. ref. 16/0333

Update 28.03.16: We have submitted this  response to the planning application.

******

An application for the large site at South Grove was received by Waltham Forest council on 08 February 2016.  We are currently taking a look at this.

A mixed use development. Demolition of existing buildings and construction of buildings ranging between 2 to 12 storeys in height comprising 473 residential units (127 x 1 bed, 275 x 2 bed, 28 x 3 bed, 43 x studio) and 154sqm. Commercial floor space for (use class A1, A2, A3, B1 and D1)Provision of associated car parking, cycle parking amenity space, energy centre, infrastructure works and landscaping.

It follows two consultation events by the developers late in 2015 and in January 2016, and a ‘Supplementary Planning Document ‘ that was meant to guide the design was adopted by the council in September 2015.

160333 DAS p30.jpg

(You may know that this site was previously subject to an application – which was approved – by Morrisons, with a large supermarket and residential uses.)

The application documents can be found of the WF website but we have them here for ease of access.  [Update 09.03.16]  The public notice for the application was published on 07 March, so the formal 21 day consultation period closes on 28 March 2016.  (Comments received after this date will often be accepted but is less likely to be taken into account.)

Should you wish to comment you can do so by writing to Waltham Forest council at dcmail@walthamforest.gov.uk.  (You should quote the application reference and your name and address, and it is worth referring to the supplementary planning document and council’s Design Charter and Urban Design SPD.)    We encourage anyone who wants to comment to do so!

The most significant documents describing the proposals will be the Design and Access Statement, the architectural drawings, and the landscape drawings.

Our thoughts on the consultation proposals can be found here.  (We are preparing a response to the application).

Documents that form the planning application:

Waste Management Statement

Transport Report

Sustainability Statement

Site plan

Road survey

Planning Statement

Noise and Vibration Report

Landscape Proposals

Flood Risk Assessment

Drawings – Landscaping

Drawings – Architectural

Design and Access Statement

Archaeological Report

Arboricultural Report

Air Quality Statement

97 Lea Bridge Road – App. ref. 15/3834‏

Update 28 May 2016

The application is being considered by the planning committee, recommended for approval by planning officers, at their meeting on 07 June, 7pm at the town hall council chamber.

The officer’s report is here.

***********

97 Lea Bridge Road, E10 7QL.

08 March 2016

AE17 submitted this response to the application.

Should you wish to comment on the application you can do so here, or write to Waltham Forest council at dcmail@walthamforest.gov.uk, for the attention of Nick Eagle.  (You should quote the application reference and your name and address.)

The proposal is for:

300 Residential units (81 x 1 bed, 178 x 2 bed, 28 x 3bed, 1 x 4 bed and 12 x studios) in new buildings (height range from 5to 18 storeys buildings). Provision of (1082.3sq.m) flexible retail space for (use class A1,A2,A3,A5), (810.70sq.m) space for (use class D1/D2). 60 car parking spaces,2 car clubs spaces, 540 cycle parking spaces, refuse store, & plant room at basement level with public and private amenity space.

LBR view

The majority of the application information appeared on the WF website on 02 February, although (at our request) the Design and Access Statement was added today, 09 February.

Like others we find the WF website very inaccessible, so for this scheme (since it is significant and apparently not very well publicised) we have downloaded the information for access here.  Please see below.

[Updated paragraph] We believe the official closing date for comments is 29th February. We have now been advised that due to delays in publicising the application the consultation deadline has been delayed until 14 March 2016.  (There is a statutory requirement for an official notice to be displayed in a local newspaper (here, Waltham Forest News) and a 21 day consultation period following this.)

The main documents of interest will be the Design and Access Statement (watch out – large file) and the drawings.  Other information below.

Important local planning policy that is relevant is the Northern Olympic Fringe Area Action Plan (although this has not been adopted by the council so legal weight is questionable), LB Waltham Forest’s Design Charter and Urban Design SPD.

IMG_8189.jpg

WF153834 Transport statement

WF153834 Transport statement 2

WF153834 Residential travel plan

WF153834 Public realm and Landscape proposals

WF153834 Preliminary ecological proposal

WF153834 Planning statement

WF153834 Pedestrian level wind microclimate assessment

WF153834 Noise and vibration

WF153834 Geo-environmental assessment

WF153834 Flood risk assessment

WF153834 Energy Strategy report

WF153834 Demolition and construction plan

WF153834 Daylight and sunlight report WF153834 Archeological desk based assessment

WF153834 Application

WF153834 Air quality assessment

WF153834 Affordable housing statement

 

AE17 Response to South Grove consultation (January 2016)

AE17 have submitted this response this response to the South Grove consultation held in January 2016.

For reference, here are the developer’s consultation boards from events in January 2016 and November 2015.

Waltham Forest has a South Grove ‘Supplementary Planning Document’ (SPD) which was adopted in 2015, and is supposed to inform the developers of sites  covered.

AE17 response to Riley’s Snooker Hall application (ref. 15188)

05 July 2015: Architects E17 have submitted this response to this planning application.

An extract of the Design and Access Statement accompanying the application is downloadable here. (Source – LBWF Planning webiste).

13 October 2015: We have submitted a further response to the revised application.

The addendum report can be found here.