Planning permission granted despite residents' reservations about height
Visualisation of building looking along North End Road
A new skyscraper with “100 per cent affordable housing” has been given the green light in Fulham despite opposition from a local planning barrister.
The 20-storey tower with 133 flats, featuring distinctive arched windows and a ground floor “arcade”, will be built on the Clement Attlee Estate.
It will be named Edith Summerskill House, after the previous tower block of the same name that was demolished at the location in 2017, having stood empty since 2011.
The planning application comes from Hammersmith and Fulham Council itself, working in a joint venture with developer Stanhope Plc, which transformed the former BBC Television Centre into flats.
A similar scheme was approved by the council’s Planning Committee in 2017, only to be quashed in a judicial review two years later. But the old block had already been demolished.
The court battle was brought by Fulham resident and planning barrister, Richard Turney, who returned to speak at the Planning Committee on 27 September.
Artist's impression of building planned for Edith Summerskill House site
Mr Turney told the Committee: “It’s too tall and too bulky. It’s 20 metres taller than what was there before.”
He continued: “There’s no economic justification for building this high and it ignores your Local Plan. You have identified where tall buildings should go in the borough and it’s not here.
“It’s the wrong scheme for the Clem Attlee Estate… it will literally throw the rest of the estate into shadow.”
Another local, Kate Lamont, was one of 34 people who wrote objections to the council. She told the committee there had been no public consultation since 2016. Council planning officers admitted this was true.
The committee’s Labour and Conservative councillors also voiced concern about the tower’s height, but there was also praise for the volume of affordable housing, which includes 105 “social rent” homes and 28 at “intermediate rents”.
Most London councils require new, private developments to include 35 per cent affordable housing.
Sands End Labour councillor Matt Uberoi, said: “I like this application in many ways and I think we all support the public benefit of 100 per cent affordable housing… I just wish it was being introduced in a tower block that was 20 metres shorter.”
Matt Thorley, a Conservative for Parsons Green ward, quizzed planning officers on why the tower was being built on an area that the council’s Local Plan did not designate for tall buildings.
Mr Thorley also asked whether the building would “overshadow” the neighbouring children’s playground. An officer, Peter Wilson, admitted that this had not been assessed.
Asked why the new scheme wouldn’t again be rejected if another judicial review was brought, Mr Wilson said the application would win. He said the new plans would be compared to an empty building site rather than the alternative of keeping an existing building which had since been demolished.
Meanwhile, Historic England wrote to the council saying the skyscraper would “cause serious harm” to the setting of the Church of St Thomas of Canterbury, a grade II* listed heritage building.
The committee was also told the development will include a new community hall and kitchen available for all estate residents. No new car parking spaces are proposed.
The skyscraper was given planning permission after three committee members, including two Tory and one Labour, voted against. The remaining five voted in favour.
Owen Sheppard - Local Democracy Reporter
October 1, 2020