30 new flats and houses are on the way north of Lavender Hill

In one of the largest developments on Lavender Hill for some time, Wandsworth Council is planning to start work on the building of 26 flats and 4 large houses, spread across seven different buildings mostly on “spare” bits of land in the Gideon Road Estate.  These are all set to be Council-owned, and are mainly designed to accommodate residents who are being moved out of the Winstanley Estate ahead of its partial demolition and redevelopment.

The biggest of them all is to be built on a set of garages and parking spaces at the western end of Gideon Road – creating 15 flats and three large houses (going up to six bedrooms!).  Our future new neighbours will do quite well out of this move, as the proposed buildings are rather better quality than most on the part of the Winstanley estate that’s being redeveloped, and several of the flats and houses have decent sized gardens.Gideon after aerial.pngHere’s a ‘before and after’ of the entrance to the large area of garages and car parking at the back of the Gideon Road estate – the balcony visible on the right in the first photo is part of the privately owned set of flats and houses that were built a few years ago (Westmoreland Apartments).

The development aims to recreate the surface car parking spaces used by residents of Gideon Road, but the garages will not be replaced.

The second biggest is a set of eight flats in a pair of similar-looking buildings essentially filling in the ’empty corners’ of the Tyneham Close block of flats which are currently a small paved area sometimes used for a kickabout, and an empty space – here’s a ‘before and after’ of one of these buildings:

The third, and smallest, is a three-bed house and three flats, replacing a row of garages in the sunken car park area behind The Crown.  The house, and one of the flats, have small gardens.Lavender garages.pngThis map shows roughly where all the new buildings are set to be built – they essentially fill in all the empty spaces in the Gideon Road estate.  We understand there was some thought of also ‘filling in the gaps’ directly facing Lavender Hill as well, but this was discarded (just as well, as the large trees would have been cut down, and the three parallel blocks of flats would have lost a great deal of daylight if the area had been built on).Site map.jpgThis map, drawn from the planning application, shows the original plan for the Gideon Road estate.  It’s surprising to learn that it was, apparently, designed in the early 1970s as a single coordinated plan for around 200 houses and flats (as a partial redevelopment of the Victorian-era L’Anson and Townsend estates that were previously on the site), as walking around it it often feels as though it’s really several separate and unrelated developments that are loosely combined, with strange dead ends and some rather confusing footpath routes.  Gideon Road Estate.pngOriginal plan of the Gideon Road Estate, (c) Wandsworth Borough Council

All of these developments already have full planning permission – approved back in early 2017).  It wasn’t particularly controversial at the time, maybe thanks to the proposed buildings generally being reasonably scaled, and the widely recognised need for decent quality affordable housing.  There was concern at the loss of car parking (even though the garages were privately let, and a fair few were out of use, the cars in those that are being rented still have to go somewhere after the garages are knocked down).

IMG_20190111_121610169.jpgOther issues raised at the time included reduced light to some areas, and also concerns that a small minority of the tenants from the (somewhat troubled) part of the Winstanley that’s being redeveloped might not be too welcome on the calm and neighbourly Gideon Road estate.

This development looks set to start in the not-too-distant future, as ground surveys and the like are already taking place – typically suggesting build may be underway within a year or less.  Some public rights of way have also already been eliminated in the Gideon Road garages  section of the development (as they’re set to be covered by buildings) – the picture to the right shows the application to change some of the areas open to public access.

Planning / design images (c) Wandsworth Borough Council, aerial view extract (c) Google

 

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An interesting mews development is being proposed at the back of IdeaSpace

Elevated view.pngA planning application has been submitted to develop what’s described as an ‘apart hotel’ on part of the Battersea Business Centre.  It’d consist of around 20 ensuite rooms spread across four serviced apartments – accessed through the back of the IdeaSpace shared workspace (formerly 1st Stop); the artists’ impression of the development (drawn from the planning application) is shown above.

Our diagram below indicates the rough area covered by this proposal, which continues the trend of using the land behind the main buildings on Lavender Hill to build relatively high density mews-style developments:1st stop.jpgThis will entail some changes to the IdeaSpace, as well as the replacement of a warehouse building that’s currently within Battersea Business Centre.  The building in question is old and tired, and isn’t much to look at (image below, from the planning application) – it’s unlikely that anyone will mourn its loss.side view.jpgThese units are designed for short-to-medium term stay, and as far as we can tell would be run alongside the shared office space – we doubt these would be viable as long term residential due to the lack of outside space.  The diagram below shows the split of office space (orange) and apartment space (purple) on one floor of the proposed development.Floorplans.pngThe new building will include a basement, accessed from within the Business Centre, that’s designed to recreate the storage warehouse that is being lost in the development.

By and large this seems a sensible development provided the units do remain in use for short-to-medium term let and don’t just get converted to four houses (as the accommodation is built to a high density and isn’t really suitable for long term use).  It will probably also add to the activity in the IdeaSpace shared office, which does drive some trade to the rest of the street; and by including a new basement it dosn’t irrevocably remove business uses from the site.

To see the full planning application, and comment, visit Wandsworth’s planning website where this proposal is application number 2019/0023.

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Improved access to Asda from Dorothy Road

Lavender Gardens current.jpgLavender Gardens is the small child-friendly pocket park and playground on Dorothy Road – maybe better known as a useful cut-through to the Asda car park.  A little bit of good news is the announcement by Wandsworth that later this year the path through park will be redesigned and equipped with a ramp, rather than the current steps – making access from the east a lot easier for anyone with a pram or trolley, as well as providing disabled access for the first time.

The main benefit is accessibility, but this is also helpful for safety: as a completely straight pathway it’ll improve sight lines and visibility.  As part of the works, the benches facing Dorothy Road will be relocated to the inside of the park, which will helpfully mean they’re not as accessible to our ever-lurking street drinkers after hours.  There will also be some changes to the landscaping of the north end of the park.

This is the latest in a series of small upgrades to the park – a few years ago the cut through had a street light installed, making it somewhat safer after hours.  Asda had issues for years with the steps – mainly as they used to be tiled & eternally slippery, a problem that was only solved by covering them with rough-surfaced paving stones, which fixed the slipperiness issue but made the steps of uneven height.

This is being paid for by the Wandsworth Local Fund – essentially money the Council secures from the developers of new flats in the Borough as part of their planning permission, which is used to make improvements to the neighbourhood.

All in all, a sensible improvement, that will finally mean that all three access routes to Asda are accessible.  Now if only we could do something to get encourage the marauding pigeons that infest the entrance facing Lavender Hill to move on somewhere else…

Main image (c) Google street view, artists’ impressions of works (c) Wandsworth / Enable.

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Whole Foods Market on Lavender Hill is growing

IMG_20190107_113357938_HDR.jpgA little bit of good news – 303 Lavender Hill (a.k.a. the rather mucky looking shop unit between Whole Foods Market and the Corner Stone bookstore), which has been empty for years and is frankly a bit of an eyesore, is being cleaned up and becoming an extension of the shop next door.

Pictured to the right are the cheerful team who were valiantly scraping off about five years’ worth of flyposting from the exterior.

This seems a good use for the unit, and it’s a sign of confidence on the part of Whole Foods in the store.  It’s worth bearing in mind that the company – which is small in the UK, with half a dozen local stores and one large flagship on Kensington High Street, but a significant player in parts of the US – is now owned by Amazon, who reportedly have big plans for the business, including a large US store expansion and various linksges between Amazon’s online business and the physical stores.  It will be interesting to see how this store evolves.

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The proposed new shopfront (c) Dickson Architects

But also some less positive news – the Poggenpohl kitchen showroom has closed.  This is the shop that acquired a certain fame when a double decker bus crashed in to it, fortunately without lasting injuries, in August 2017 (the aftermath pictured below left).

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Plans for a new urban park next to BAC

The rebuild of Battersea Arts Centre is finished, and it’s looking great (and worth a visit, for anyone who’s not seen the recent works to the part of the building destroyed by the fire).  Originally, the planned final part of the project was quite minor – just some work to tidy up the street around it, finally fixing the decaying ‘heritage’ street lights in front of the building, and dealing with the increasingly uneven stone paving.  Lavender hill podium planBut the final phase of the project now includes a surprise: BAC are proposing to go much further and convert the whole of Town Hall Road (the street to the right of the building – pictured below) to a small pedestrianised park.  With new trees, and a mix of planters, new paving, a mural, and the two telephone kiosks ingeniously converted to a garden tool store and a gardening sink for community gardening visits, it would be quite a change to the current surroundings.Current viewBAC also propose converting the somewhat run-down raised area between BAC and 158 Lavender Hill – which is actually the roof of some old pram sheds for the block of flats – in to a planting area – an approximate ‘before’ (image credit: Google street view) and ‘after’ are shown below.

This will incorporate lush planting set around a large steel roof truss that was rescued from the fire in the Great Hall (shown below – it was kept because it was interesting and the mangled nature of it demonstrated the ferocity of the fire at the Great Hall; it’s currently in storage), which is to be converted in to an accidentally produced sculpture (just visible in the image to the right below).

The proposed park includes an area for several new outdoor tables and chairs, all of which is at the flat bit of the street at the top (Lavender Hill) end – shown below.  This location is mainly so it can serve the BAC Cafe (whose new entrance faces the area), but presumably also so that it can avoid disturbing neighbours at the quiet end of the street, and be easily taken in at night to keep the dreaded street drinkers away.Side viewThis is quite a complicated project – the design has to preserve emergency access (which, maybe not surprisingly in view of recent events at BAC, has been looked at in some detail), the land involved is split in to several ownerships (BAC have leased most of the street itself, but the pavement belongs to Wandsworth, the walls belong to the neighbours, one area belongs to the block of flats next door, and the two telephone kiosks belong to BT), and of course the whole proposal has to be in keeping with the listed nature of BAC itself.

This is an interesting project, that would make the slightly down at heel area around BAC a lot more attractive, and which seems worthy of support.  The precise details are as ever likely to evolve a bit depending on what the various landowners involved want and what can be afforded – but, broadly speaking, we doubt this will be a controversial project.  Having nicer surroundings would also help BAC’s various venues more attractive to hire out – again helping the overall viability of BAC, which (since it became independent from Wandsworth) has to stand on its own feet financially.

To see the full details, and to make any formal planning comments (current deadline for comment is the 10th January), see Wandsworth’s planning site where the main application is number 2018/5127.

All images (c) BAC, taken from their planning application, apart from the ‘before’ streetscape image which is (c) Google Street View.

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Cleaning up Lavender Hill’s buses

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A bus stop poster outside BAC advertising the new buses

TfL have launched the latest of a series of Low Emission Bus Zones, and the newest one will run along the full length of Lavender Hill (as well as most of Wandsworth Road, and part of St John’s Hill – see map below).

Only ‘greener buses’ – which essentially means those that meet the strict Euro VI emissions standard on emissions including carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide and particulate materials – will serve on routes operating throughout this zone.

With half a dozen buses running along Lavender Hill this affects quite a few buses; we understand this has essentially meant requiring newer, cleaner buses (generally hybrids, with modern engine technology) when contracts are up for renewal.

Several routes on Lavender Hill already had relatively new buses (87, 452, etc) but the 77 really stood out for having a fleet of particularly old, loud and smelly buses, which were also quite prone to breaking down en route – which have now finally been replaced.

Looking at the map, it seems the chosen zones aren’t necessarily the absolute worst pollution hotspots, but rather they seem to be focussed on areas that have both a lot of buses, and a lot of residents / pedestrians – i.e. the interaction is the problem.   TfL presumably aren’t so worried about high pollution levels on major arterial roads if there aren’t many houses / shops / pedestrians to be affected by the pollution, which seems a fair approach in a world where funding is limited.

All in all, this is unambiguously good news.  Lavender Hill has always had heavy bus traffic and has long suffered from air pollution.  The difference in the level of blackish soot that gathers on window ledges and surfaces on buildings facing the main street, compared with nearby side roads, is really noticeable – and this is always a good indicator of how mucky the air is.  Anything that can help is to be applauded.

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The parking meters are going contactless

The old parking meters on the side streets either side of Lavender Hill are finally being replaced.  It’s good news as their functionality was, at best, mixed – several had been out of service for many months (in a few cases, years).  The alternative ‘pay by phone’ option left a great deal to be desired, meaning a lack of working meters was a headache for any visitor (whether to shops or residents).

In the short term, some areas are meterless as the electrical connections to the old meters are gradually disconnected (the new ones are solar powered, whereas the old ones were so ancient they predated cheap solar panels).

The new ones won’t take coins or cash – avoiding coin collection costs, hugely reducing the number of mechanical parts involved, and probably reducing theft / vandalism.  But they will take card payments (chip & contactless), which is likely to be preferred by many.  The new machines are quite a leap forward in technology, jumping straight from LCD time display to full colour solar display screens.

It’s hardly front page news, but as far as we can tell (through the frequency of being asked if we know of any working meters in the neighbourhood) these do get used a fair bit, so it’s good that they’re being made a bit more convenient.

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