Friday, 18 March 2016

Not Amused At New Proposal

Just over two week ago, Home Group submitted the formal plans for their multi tower block replacement of Victoria House to Sutton Council. As I have said before, I'm rather less than happy with the design - it certainly hasn't changed much since in the year since they first unveiled their plans. So much for listening to local opinion.

Above is the latest picture, available of the Home Group website. This is as wonderful as this building will ever look. And while this is better than the awful eyesore that currently resides on this corner, the bar is very low and the improvement, marginal. After half the foliage has died and and the litter built up I fear this building will soon etch itself on the local psych as the 'building that could have been'. It will come be seen as the ugly blot whose only redeeming feature was the fact that what it replaced was even worse.

Not only does it look awful, but there are several other reason why it is not suitable for the local area. Now before anyone starts saying I'm just against any major proposal here, I was all in favour of the Stonegate proposal; in fact I joined local people in gathering petition signatures to ask to council to approve the plan at the time. It wasn't perfect but it was a good compromise which broadly reflected the local art deco architecture and crucially it had a decent amount of off street parking.

But to get back to those other reasons (one of which I have already hinted at), I will hand over to Alan Plant, chair of the local CHAPRA (Church Hill, Abbots, Priory) Residents' Association who has set out his personal objections as:
  1. Insufficient parking for residents of the development within the Victoria House Site
  2. Insufficient or no parking for employees of retail establishments on the Victoria house site
  3. Insufficient or no  parking for shoppers to the 4 new retail outlets on the Victoria house site
  4. Is there parking for Artisans white Transit vans , who may reside in new development?
  5. The height of the building is out of Character with the rest of North Cheam’s architecture. Maybe 4 to 6 storeys would work and that would help with the parking.
  6. With a potential of 282 occupants coupled with those from other developments in the immediate area, Office/shop conversation existing planning permission etc. you are looking at a population increase of about 1000 within two years within a half mile radius ,which could be as high as a 10% increase . When there is only one NHS GP surgery within ½ miles radius of the development not a potential 12 as indicated in supporting documentation, most of these being near Sutton and unlikely to take patients from North Cheam, apart from being an inconvenient distance when one is ill . Coupled with overloading other infrastructure, will have an adverse effect on the amenity of existing residents and an over-development of the area within current infrastructure facilities.

The near 1000 extra people in the area refers not only to this development but also the nearby Mc Millan House development in Cheam Common Road and several other smaller local developments. All these people are going to need parking, health and education facilities nearby.

Alan has organised a petition against the proposal and will be hosting a stall with some helpers on the pavement outside Steve's Card Shop on the opposite corner tomorrow (Saturday) morning (9:30 - 1:30). They'll be offering more information and the chance to sign the petition. Please go along and show your support. (I am planning to pop down to offer some help too.)

Please feel free to object to (or support) this application by going to the council planning website and making your feelings known. Alan and the helpers will be on hand tomorrow morning to help explain the process too if necessary.

For those who get excited by the smell of detail, Alan has included some additional information to substantiate his objections about the parking (points 1-4):

  • Erroneous Parking provision survey, which suggest 18 parking places in Lingfields when there is only 9 sensibly.
  • 23 parking places in Wellington Ave when it is a residents parking street just to mention two.
  • Church Hill road is deemed a main Distributor road by Sutton Council with in service bus in one direction 24 hours a day and out of service 93,151 and 213 in both directions, yet it is seen as an overflow parking facility. When in fact parking will cause delays to public transport, deterioration of the atmosphere due to traffic congestion, and an adverse effect on the amenity of existing residents. Not a very practical solution, which should be tackled within the V H site.
  • The application of a PTAL 3 rating to North Cheam which only has bus transport and nearest mainline station has 1.3Miles away, whereas Cheam Village has a lower PTAL 2 which is serviced by buses and a mainline station. This would appear to be incorrect or applied so that a less than one parking place per flat is the guide in North Cheam instead of a minimum of one.
  • Furthermore it was stated by Richard Green Planning manager in a letter of 27th October 2015 that there is limited capacity in the surrounding streets, with a suggestion to enter an S106 agreement. Has this been done? I do not see it ?--As included in the supporting documentation, although not presented in a very orderly way.
  • In the transport statement I wish to highlight the note 6.1.5 : "Planning permission will be granted for development proposed with limited or no parking provided the Council is satisfied that this will not result in an increase in on street parking which would adversely affect traffic flows, bus movements, road safety, or the amenity of local residents or the environment" ---which it clearly does.
  • I disagree with the statement 6.2.16  final paragraph. In the transport statement, (this may not be the only one I disagree with).

The full plans and document can be seen here (to which much of this refers to), but you'll need to tick the agreement box and proceed once you hit this page. There are numerous documents to wade through and no easy way to find what you're looking for (although hovering over each document icon will at least give you it's name) but that is unfortunately the nature of planning proposals.

We have lived with the current Victoria House eyesore for decades. In the grand scheme of things a couple more years won't matter if means we end up with the right replacement building here, not the wrong one, as this clearly is. It is going to be a local landmark for a long time and have a major effect on the local area. So it's important to get it right.