The Richmond Society has formally objected to the latest proposals for the Homebase site as part of the consultation closing on 3 September. After Richmond Council refused the application (to which the RS also objected) the Mayor of London exercised his powers to take over as the planning authority and indicated that more affordable housing was required. The current proposals are the second version submitted by the developer to meet that objective.
A public hearing is set for 1 October and the RS and Kew Society are proposing a joint submission given that we are likely to be allowed 5 minutes.
RS’s objections remain the same as originally expressed: over-development of the site because of density, excessive height and pressure on services which already cannot cope in the form of utilities (old gas and water pipes), a reduced bus service round Manor Circus resulting from TfL implementing its proposals to be done in December 2020 and an inadequate train station at North Sheen.Details of the current proposals are available in this press release on Richmond Council’s website. The public consultation runs from 6 August to 3 September 2020 and full details are available on this page on the GLA website.
Copies of the latest proposals are available to view on this page on the GLA website
The texts of the RS’s objections are set out below:
“I write on behalf of the Richmond Society with 1300 members to object to the latest revisions to the Application which are the subject of the current consultation. The proposed changes do nothing to alleviate our original concerns in our objection of 11 May 2019– indeed the problems are exacerbated by the increased height and density proposed with resulting pressure on local services.
The new proposals envisage increasing the number or residential units by 69 to 453 – even greater density.
One block will be 11 storeys, one 10 and two 8 each (compared with the original proposal of 3 blocks of nine storeys each) with additional unspecified height for plant. The new proposals would mean towers nearly double the maximum of six storeys envisaged under the Local Plan. The area surrounding the Homebase site comprises low rise buildings so the addition of the proposed four towers will change the character of the area significantly and result in the site being overdeveloped.
The increased density will put further pressure on local services and amenities just after TfL announced in June 2020 that it will implement changes on which it consulted. These will result in fewer buses in the Manor Road vicinity when the new plans envisage more than 1000 extra residents: surely a lack of a coherent plan. This is quite apart from the financial predicament of TfL and the uncertainty surrounding current rail franchises which threaten the current provision of services.
A development of this size will put additional pressure on the current infrastructure. Water supply here is in poor condition with many of our chalk streams being drained; there are inadequate sewage treatment facilities (the number of CSO spills is appalling); cold water mains, and old gas pipes are unable to cope with existing demands. Indeed in January a large part of central Richmond was without gas for several weeks when an old water pipe burst next to an old gas pipe.
May 2019 objection: The Richmond Society supports the principle of a residential led mixed use scheme for this site and its contribution to the borough’s affordable housing stock. However, while we recognise the high quality architectural design, we are concerned that the density of development and its consequent height and mass results in the site being overdeveloped. In particular, three buildings of nine storeys (plus the extra unspecified height for plant) is significantly taller than the six storeys envisaged under the Local Plan as the maximum for this location. Furthermore, we understand that the Council has required a car free development for the site, but this suitability must be re-confirmed before a planning consent can be given because TfL’s plans to reduce bus services to Manor Circus. If the bus service cuts are implemented, then it would cause the site’s PTAL (Public Transport Accessibility Level) to fall below 5 – i.e. below the Council’s accepted threshold. Residents have also questioned whether the applicant’s parking stress survey is realistic and this should be verified by reference to the Council’s parking surveys commissioned by the Highways Department for CPZ proposals in 2015. Finally, there is conflicting information in the documentation regarding the site’s red line boundary and it is unclear whether the bus terminus requires s106 protection. That position should be explicitly confirmed noting that The Richmond Society supports improvements to the bus, rail and cycle facilities locally”