156 West End Lane latest plans.  Image via Design and Access Statement

156 West End Lane obscured by the fog of planning

Just as there exists the fog of war, so it seems there is a fog of planning. A2 Dominion’s redevelopment of 156 West End Lane has been amended and come back again for comments, but it’s not clear where things stand. To add to the fog, the redevelopment is being reviewed by a new planning officer.

Technically, the application did not need to reconsult because the new scheme is within the parameters of the old one (i.e. theoretically ‘better’). However, as it is such a controversial scheme, we get to enjoy another round of consultation. The closing date for comments was July 5th, but according to Camden planners, it won’t actually start until for another fortnight at least, when the official three week period will begin (i.e during the height of the summer holidays)?!  Fog of planning.  There are now more than 200 related documents to plough through on the website, so it’s becoming increasingly hard to work out where the application stands.

Two documents on Camden’s planning website provide a useful summary. They have many of the same images and explain the changes. They are the Design and Access Statement Addendum or the Townscape (scroll down to 14/6 @13:11) and Visual Impact Addendum (scroll down to 28/6). Why do two documents have the same information? Must be the fog of planning.

156 West End Lane latest plans

156 West End Lane latest plans.  Image via: Design and Access Statement

The main changes are:

  • Reduce height of the East building by one storey (making it less visible from Crediton Hill)
  • Changes to the South elevation – wavy balconies (reflecting mansion block bays?)
  • New treatment of the corner with West End Lane

The reduced height of the East Building improves the application though the the new balconies are not convincing, nor does the corner treatment doesn’t seem resolved.

Nov 15 plans.  Image via Design and Access statement.

Nov 15 plans. Image via Design and Access statement.

What stays roughly the same

  • The redevelopment provides 163 new flats (was 164); 42 affordable, 34 shared ownership and 87 private. By area 50% are affordable.
  • It provides 1,824 m2 of office space

The GLA (Mayor’s Office) commented on the previous application, so there has been an important external opinion. It felt the application broadly complies with the London plan but still had a few concerns. Camden planners too still have some concerns. but it’s not clear what those concerns are (the fog of planning again).

One concern of the GLA was the loss of employment space and the suggested ‘satisfactory business relocation measures’, which seems a big ask. Travis Perkins is fighting this hard. It wants to stay on the site but in a city short of space, Camden needs to weigh up whether light industrial usage is really the best use of this site? Travis Perkins was also interested in bidding for the site itself but decided against it.

Trying to combine employment and residential use means the proposed redevelopment exceeds the London Plan’s guidelines for residential density (odd the GLA didn’t comment on this) – buried away in the documents it calculates the net density of the residential part as being 791 habitable rooms per hectare while the London Plan has a suggested upper limit of 700.

This application faces a trilemma. Camden wants to sell the site for as much money as possible. A2Dominion offered to buy it and needs to make a commercial return. But did they offer too much, which now means they are forced to breach planning guidelines to deliver the return? It’s agreed that housing should be built, but is there enough truly affordable housing? Added to which planning policies also ‘require’ keeping as much commercial floorspace as is currently there.

The site is clearly suitable for redevelopment, and housing seems like a sensible use, but how much development is acceptable on the site? Particularly one that is adjacent to a residential area, and a conservation area at that? To be explored in part two as West Hampstead Life seeks to clarify matters further.

  • Save West Hampstead “Stop the

    Aside from the intense interest in this proposal by many hundreds of West Hampstead residents, another of the reasons for re-consultation is that the first application omitted comprehensive overshadowing diagrams, particularly and crucially for the Crown Close Designated Open Space which has protections at all levels of planning policy.

    Overshadowing diagrams have been repeatedly requested by Save West Hampstead “Stop The Blocks!” as well as by many residents. Furthermore, the provision of such diagrams is required by the GLA (see the London Plan, section 10. Open Spaces).

    Ms Chug (the previous Camden planner) promised a re-consultation would occur when overshadowing diagrams were provided by the developer. Unfortunately, although the updated application includes minimal and obscure overshadowing diagrams, these cut-off at 4pm throughout the year. 4pm is the point at which the Crown Close open space and both children’s play areas begin to be most heavily used by children returning home from school as well as adults returning home from work.

    The overshadowing diagrams provided with the revised proposal fail to include information for the internal open spaces proposed within the development. It is clear from the figures provided that two of the three internal open spaces, one of which is supposed to be an open space for children in the ‘affordable’ units, would be in almost complete shade due to their placement in conjunction with the design, height and bulk of the blocks.

    Not only does the proposal itself fail to provide adequate, useful open space, it also threatens to destroy the only Designated Open Space and two children’s play spaces in the area.

  • Aside from the intense interest in this proposal by many hundreds of West Hampstead residents, another of the reasons for re-consultation is that the first application omitted comprehensive overshadowing diagrams, particularly and crucially for the Crown Close Designated Open Space which has protections at all levels of planning policy.

    Overshadowing diagrams have been repeatedly requested by Save West Hampstead “Stop The Blocks!” as well as by many residents. Furthermore, the provision of such diagrams is required by the GLA Stage 1 Report, 10. Open Spaces.

    Ms Chug (the previous Camden planner) promised a re-consultation would occur when overshadowing diagrams were provided by the developer. Unfortunately, although the updated application includes minimal and obscure overshadowing diagrams, these cut-off at 4pm throughout the year. 4pm is the point at which the Crown Close open space and both children’s play areas begin to be most heavily used by children returning home from school as well as adults returning home from work.
    The overshadowing diagrams provided with the revised proposal fail to include information for the internal open spaces proposed within the development. It is clear from the figures provided that two of the three internal open spaces, one of which is supposed to be an open space for children in the ‘affordable’ units, would be in almost complete shade due to their placement in conjunction with the design, height and bulk of the blocks.

    Not only does the proposal itself fail to provide adequate, useful open space, it also threatens to destroy the only Designated Open Space and two children’s play spaces in the area.

  • Tom in London

    Camden has decided that it needs to make money by redeveloping this site, but the only way of attracting a developer is to let them build as densely and as high as possible over the whole site. Then the numbers stack up, but the buildings would be so bulky that they would overshadow all the neighbouring streets, houses, and gardens, all day long. That’s why the overshadowing diagrams (which were hopelessly inadequate anyway) mysteriously disappeared from the revised application. But without this information the planning application cannot possibly be approved.

    Another big issue, with which all WHampers will be familiar, would be the big increase in the number of residents – hundreds more people exacerbating the already-overcrowded West End Lane, the stations, and the pavements.

    This site simply cannot be redeveloped for residential use as a way of generating income for Camden. A school would be nice! We all know how cash-strapped the Council is, but 156 WEL would not solve the problem anyway and would create a lot of political bad feeling that might contribute to cause the ruling Labour Party to lose this marginal seat.

    • There is a primary school being built at Liddell Road, the stats around demand for a secondary are confusing.

      • Tom in London

        It was just a suggestion. Intensive residential devlopment won’t work on this site. Any new buildings will need to be low-rise except on WEL.