Thursday, 10 November 2011

St Anselms - KAPF Representation on Planning Applications 11/01826/FUL and 11/01822/FUL

KAPF Representations on The Pathways planning application in respect of St Anselm’s Church, Kennington Road (11/01826/FUL) and the related planning application in respect of Centenary Hall, Cottington Street (11/01822/FUL)


Who we are                                                                                                                          

1. The Kennington Association is a voluntary membership association of around 400 members drawn from the wider Kennington area, in the north of the Borough of Lambeth and neighbouring areas of the Borough of Southwark. Our aim is to promote and maintain the Kennington area as a good place to live and work, and the Kennington Association Planning Forum is a group of Association members, with interest in and experience of planning and development issues, that develops planning policies and makes planning representations on behalf of the wider Association. 

2. The Kennington area comprises an interspersed mixture of Georgian and Victorian conservation areas and social housing estates, some with significant deprivation. The Association’s concerns therefore include conservation, open space, affordable housing and employment and skills issues in relation to its area, and the extent to which developments in the Kennington and Vauxhall areas, such as the present St Anselm’s redevelopment, will benefit Lambeth residents and jobseekers and address issues of deprivation, or detract from public amenity.


The Developments

3. We have the following comments
  • The admirable aim of the development is to provide, through intensified use of the site, extra diverse opportunities at the heart of Kennington to meet the requirements of training centres, start-up workshops, education and housing, while maintaining existing nursery and church worship uses on site, to the overall benefit of this community.
  • The main issues for us are
    • the external design,
    • the change of use, on this site at the edge of the Kennington retail centre, to include A3 (restaurant) and B1 (starter workshop) uses, and
    • the impact on local amenity, including traffic, parking and noise

4. Dealing firstly with external design issues, our reporting architect comments as follows
“The essential elements of the existing listed church buildings are respected in the proposals, and the alterations and extensions along the Sancroft Street elevation and in the existing rear car park are in scale and appropriate to the Conservation Area. Indeed, they represent an improvement in the way they link the building elevation along Sancroft Street. . In particular, the architectural treatment of the new additions facing Sancroft Street are in harmony with the adjacent Sancroft and Cardigan Streets, with Georgian sash windows and doors, etc. Far from detracting from the scale of St Anselm’s Church, they will enhance the character of the area. It is worth noting that the existing draft Kennington Conservation Area Statement (2009) is critical of existing buildings at this end of Sancroft Street (paragraphs 2.70 and 2.71), and the application proposes more harmonious replacements”

5. As regards change of use issues, some objections have been made on the grounds that the church is outside the specified retail ‘local centre’ and should not be used for office/commercial purposes. Against that view, we argue as follows:
  • In the event, St Anselm’s is arguably at the heart of Kennington, at the junction of Kennington Road and Kennington Lane. Indeed, the Community Noticeboard for Kennington is situated on the front of St Anselm’s Church. It is an “edge of centre” location, and clearly more central than the old Regal Cinema site on the corner of Black Prince Road, another edge of centre location, where retail development was permitted in 2008, and yet another Tesco is set to open in 2012.
  • Dealing with proposed changes of use, the mix of uses is innovative, in the way that it brings together a range of employment and outreach initiatives, alongside the church and community uses. Several of these uses are already functioning in an embryonic way at St Anselm’s or at Centenary Hall, Cottington St (which is subject to a separate application 11/01822/FUL). In addition to the church related and nursery uses, the main new uses comprise:
    • the small business units
    • the Clink restaurant, where staff are ex-offenders, having received necessary training,
    • Into University (supporting young people aspiring to reach university), transferring from the Cottington St site
    • the residential units offering support for ex-offenders
·         The proposal to have these together on one site offers the potential of a creative and supportive environment, which has attracted widespread support from many leaders of the community in Kennington and beyond.
·         On the separate application on Centenary Hall, Cottington Street, the application is for conversion from D1 to C3 (application 11/01822/FUL). The intensification of the community use on the St Anselm’s site together with the provision of the supported living units on the St Anselm’s site makes it appropriate for the use of Centenary Hall to change to residential. The planning case for both applications is set out clearly in the Applicant’s Planning Statement (accompanying both applications). We have not been made aware of any objections from residents in the vicinity of Cottington Street to this proposal.
·         It should be noted from paragraph 8.29 of the Applicant’s Planning Statement,  that the applications propose a net increase of 420 sq metres of community space across the two sites. In addition, the applications propose a significant net addition in residential provision across the two sites (in accord with Policy S2 of the Lambeth Core Strategy), and it should be noted that 14 of the 17 residential units on the St Anselm’s site are proposed to be supported living units (see paragraphs 8.10-8.12 of the Planning Statement, and further detailed comment in paragraphs 8.16-8.24).
6. Issues of local amenity relate to traffic, parking and noise. We comment as follows:
  • With reference to the assertions of shading to Stables Way, this street actually runs north-south, and the existing four storey housing on the west side will have sunlight and daylight over the roofs of the two-storey proposed buildings on the east side of Stables Way.
  • The proposition that this development will generate unreasonable traffic and noise is questionable. The main entrances to the proposed development are in Kennington Road. Sancroft Street and adjoining streets are in the Congestion Zone, and most users of the development will arrive on foot or by public transport.
·         The Applicants’ Traffic Statement Report by Steer Davies Gleave dated May 2011, refers in Table 4.4 to the additional trips generated by the proposed development. Whilst the objectors are correct that the total number of daily people trips is calculated at 1,261, it should be noted that, in effect, 83% of them would be arriving or departing on foot (people using underground, train, bus, bicycle, or walking). The reference to 107 extra car trips reflects approximately half arriving in the vicinity of the site and half leaving the vicinity of the site. Given the likely spread through the day, the impact on traffic is likely to be slight.
  •  The Applicants’ Parking Survey Report by Steer Davies Gleave dated May 2011 indicates usage of between 40% and 46% of Resident Permit Holder bays at the night time peak (Tables 3.1 and 3.2). KAPF checks on these streets during mid-evening times (when the Clink Restaurant might be open) indicate less usage then, pointing to usage levels of between 36% and 42% around 8pm to 9pm. In paragraph 4.1, the Report states that 87 car spaces were still available in Sancroft Street and Cardigan Street at the night time peak. Even if half the total estimated cars visiting the site were to be present at the same point in time that would require about 25 spaces, being well below the spare capacity indicated. We conclude that the impact on parking is entirely manageable.
  • As far as noise is concerned, Kennington is increasingly a restaurant area, as one of the few retail uses able to stand up to the debilitating effect of what will soon be three edge of centre Tescos. The limited complaints that KAPF receives from time to time relate to late night opening of public houses, not to restaurants, and relate to times when the Clink restaurant will be closed. We therefore discount arguments about unreasonable noise.


7. Taking account of all these arguments, we conclude as follows:
  • We recognise that the intensification of uses on the St Anselm’s site may lead to some additional pedestrian and vehicle usage in Sancroft Street and vicinity, but KAPF does not consider that this is sufficient to outweigh the considerable merits of the proposed development in terms of the creative mix of uses and potential community benefit, and the physical enhancement of a significant site within the Kennington Conservation Area.
  • We recognise that there may be unarticulated concerns for some residents about ex-offenders being accommodated on site. However, it should be recognised that many ex-offenders live in all parts of London already, and often such people do not have access to a network of support, which the Pathways project will offer. KAPF concur with many in the local community who have already welcomed this proposal, which, hopefully, will provide a supportive environment, at least for those ex-offenders who will be catered for by this project. 
  • KAPF therefore support both these developments, and we invite the Planning Applications Committee to agree both the applications.

D J Boardman                                                                             
Chair                                                                                               KAPF                                                                                               

Rodney Ovenden
Elizabeth Scott
Reviewing Officers
12 November 2011