St Philip Neri planning application

St Philip Neri planning application

Posted on 25. Jun, 2019 by in Community, events

RE: DC/19/111793 | An application submitted under Section 73 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to allow for the variation of Conditions 2 and 8 in connection with planning permission dated 7th October 2016 DC/16/096041 as amended for the demolition of the existing buildings at Our Lady and St Philip Neri Primary School, 208 Sydenham Road SE26 and the construction of a three storey school building including a nursery, a multi-function sports court and a running track, together with the creation of a formal pedestrian access from Home Park, the provision of cycle and scooter spaces, refuse storage and associated landscaping works to provide the amalgamation of the Infant and Junior Schools, in order to allow the following changes:- Alterations to the materials, Alterations to the fenestration pattern, Increase in the height of the building, Alterations to the roof profile, Alterations to the siting of the building, Installation of UKPN cabinets and planting on the corner of Sydenham Road and Fairlawn Park, Reduction in the number of fins on the Hall building, Installation of an internal ball fence to the playground on the flat roof of the Hall building, Installation ventilation grilles, Alterations to external lighting, Alterations to extraction flue, Alteration to playground canopies, Alterations to nursery entrance, Installation of an air-conditioning unit near the nursery entrance, Alterations to the brick plinth and Alterations to external plant store.

The Sydenham Society objects to the ‘minor variations’ application on the following grounds:

1 Lack of community benefit

The October 2016 planning permission contains the following conditions:

 

  1. (a) No development shall commence above ground level until details of the following

works to Home Park (including drawings, specifications and a programme for

delivery) have been submitted to and approved in writing by the local planning

authority:

  1. improvements to the footpaths and lighting in Home Park, between the

entrance to the school (within the park) and Sydenham Road and

between the entrance to the school (within the park) and Winchfield

Road;

(i) new waste bins along the footpath within the Park between Sydenham

Road and Winchfield Road; and

(ii) soft landscaping along the footpath within the Park between Sydenham

Road and Winchfield Road.

(b) The development shall not be first occupied until the works referred to in

paragraph (a) of this condition have been implemented in accordance with the

details approved under the said paragraph (a).

Reason: In order to ensure that the Park environment provides an appropriate access

for the school in accordance with Core Strategy Policy 12 Open space and

environmental assets and Policy 15 High quality design for Lewisham of the Core

Strategy.

 

Conditions 18 & 19 (b) above state that the school should not be occupied prior to the implementation of the works to Home Park. The Society is dismayed to see that these conditions (reproduced above) have been omitted from the current application. In the course of a packed public meeting for residents in May 2016 (chaired by Cllr Chris Best) the original plans were displayed and discussed. At this meeting the school stated that they had every intention of requiring parents to park in Winchfield Road (on the southern boundary of Home Park) rather than Fairlawn Park or other streets closer to the site. The lack of a new entrance into the school from the park (with the associated upgrade in lighting and paths) means that the amenity of residents of adjacent streets has been massively impacted by short-term car parking in an area that does not benefit from a CPZ. The Sydenham Society did not object to the construction of a larger school than hitherto as we were persuaded that a significant community benefit would accrue from the development. We’re dismayed that no such benefit appears to be forthcoming in the current application; a unanimous motion expressing this view was passed at the Sydenham Assembly on June 8th.

2 Lack of consultation

It is the firm view of the Sydenham Society that the Diocese of Southwark should have lodged a new full planning application prior to starting work on the demolition and re-build of Our Lady & St Philip Neri School. Having departed from the approved plans (which were given planning consent in October 2016) a new application should have been forthcoming with a new round of public consultation. This would have given local people the opportunity to comment on the many significant changes to the original planning permission (eg height, roof, location, windows, materials, means of ventilation etc). It would also allow the many areas of confusion to be clarified; currently, the conflicting and contradictory detail in the mass of paperwork makes it impossible to understand the developers’ actual intentions.

We maintain that this flawed consultation makes it impossible for neighbours to understand the developers’ intentions. The lack of properly informed consultation is key. In November 2017 the High Court quashed a planning permission in the case of Holborn Studios vs LB Hackney, after consultation deficit. A report of this case (taken from Public Law Today, November 2017, by Mark Smulian) is reproduced below (and in the Appendix at the end of this letter):

“A judge has quashed planning permission given by the London Borough of Hackney for a major redevelopment on the Regent’s Canal. Deputy High Court judge John Howell QC said in Holborn Studios Ltd, R (On the Application Of) v London Borough of Hackney [2017] EWHC 2823 that the council acted unlawfully by failing to consult again when amendments were made to a planning application.

Photographic business Holborn Studios, which runs the largest photographic studio complex in Europe on the site, said that, unfairly and unreasonably, neither it nor the public were notified of, or consulted on, the amendments and Hackney unfairly failed to adjourn consideration to allow it to respond. It also said the council had unfairly failed to disclose two unredacted letters on which officers had relied to say the amended proposed accommodation in the redevelopment would be acceptable for Holborn Studios.

Claim for judicial review was also brought by Del Brenner, secretary of amenity group the Regents Network, that Hackney’s planning sub-committee failed to take into account policies relating to the ‘Blue Ribbon Network’ of waterways.

Hackney contended there was no requirement for consultation about the amendments as judging whether they involved a substantial or fundamental difference was a matter for the local planning authority.

The judge said officers appeared to have assumed there was no need to re-consult because in their view the changes proposed were positive and would not cause any significant adverse impact.

‘But that was not the right question nor an answer to it,’ he said. ‘The question they needed to consider was whether, without re-consultation, any of those who were entitled to be consulted on the application would be deprived of the opportunity to make any representations that they may have wanted to make on the application as amended.’

It did not follow that no-one might take a contrary view simply because the officers involved welcomed the changes.

Judge Howell said: ‘The procedure followed in relation to the amendments… deprived the claimants and others of a fair opportunity to make such representations as they might have wanted to make about them and that materially prejudiced the claimants. The procedure followed in the circumstances was so unfair as to be unlawful.’

He said the council’s failure to allow Holborn Studios to inspect the two unredacted letters ‘substantially prejudiced Holborn Studios and was unfair and unlawful’.

But the judge dismissed Mr Brenner’s case, saying there was ‘no challenge to the merits of the judgments made by officers or by members on such issues given the information available to them’.

A Hackney spokesperson said: ‘The planning application for the redevelopment of Holborn Studios was given a resolution for approval at planning committee as it satisfied all policies in the council’s development plan.

‘The judicial review was upheld on procedural grounds and we accept the ruling’.”

The design changes to the Our Lady & St Philip Neri school scheme are so extensive that they have resulted in an unrecognisable building that detracts from the civic streetscape in this part of Sydenham Road, is over 1 metre higher than the approved plans and does not benefit from any setback from the road. In the view of the Sydenham Society the departure from the October 2016 planning consent is so serious that enforcement action is warranted.

 

3 Air Quality

The creation of a “green route” via Home Park into the new school would have protected the pupils from the poor air quality of Sydenham Road. It has been acknowledged that air quality locally is bad; at the neighbouring Haseltine School air quality monitoring is currently being carried out under an initiative by the Mayor of London. Lewisham’s own ‘Healthy Streets Initiative’ has just been launched, in which an area called Sydenham East has been designated and will hopefully benefit from measures designed to improve air quality.

In order not to flout LB Lewisham’s own policies, the Sydenham Society contends that appropriate improvements to Home Park should be implemented immediately.

By failing to build the new entrance from Home Park the Diocese is exposing young children (aged from 3-11) to exactly the same poor air quality as exists at Haseltine School. The opportunity to encourage a healthy walk to school through Home Park must not be lost; this situation should be remedied at the earliest opportunity.

An additional major breach of the original planning consent is that the new school has been built without any setback from the very busy Sydenham Road. In the approved plans this setback consisted of a space varying from a minimum of 0.2 metres to a maximum of 1.7 metres. Incorporating this setback into the finished scheme would not only have provided a visual ‘buffer zone’ to soften its appearance but would also have improved the air quality inside the school.

We note that mechanical ventilation is now proposed for the school – presumably because it’s not possible to open the windows. This not only flouts policies designed to mitigate climate change but also adds to the school’s running costs. Pupils report that the classrooms are stuffy – and with the forecast increase in daytime temperatures over the coming years (as a result of global warming) this problem will escalate.

Conclusion

While the architects engaged by the Diocese have made an attempt to regularise the many planning breaches detailed in the Enforcement Report (ref ENF/18/00139) it would appear that a ‘minimal’ approach is being taken to to remedy a handful of them. In our view a full enforcement action should be initiated as soon as possible in order to deliver the high quality scheme that would have resulted if the original plans had been followed. If enforcement action is not taken, there is every possibility that other developers will behave in exactly the same way as those responsible for the currrent situation at Our Lady & St Philip Neri primary school.

 

Kind regards,

Annabel McLaren, Chair, Sydenham Society

 

cc         Emma Talbot

James Hughes

Cllr Chris Best

Cllr Tom Copley

Cllr Liam Curran

Cllr Alan Hall

Cllr Sue Hordijenko

Cllr Jacq Paschoud

Cllr John Paschoud

Cllr Sakina Sheik

Cllr Susan Wise

 

 

 

Appendix

Holborn Studios Ltd, R v London Borough of Hackney

A judge has quashed planning permission given by the London Borough of Hackney for a major redevelopment on the Regent’s Canal. Deputy High Court judge John Howell QC said in Holborn Studios Ltd, R (On the Application Of) v London Borough of Hackney [2017] EWHC 2823 that the council acted unlawfully by failing to consult again when amendments were made to a planning application.

Photographic business Holborn Studios, which runs the largest photographic studio complex in Europe on the site, said that, unfairly and unreasonably, neither it nor the public were notified of, or consulted on, the amendments and Hackney unfairly failed to adjourn consideration to allow it to respond. It also said the council had unfairly failed to disclose two unredacted letters on which officers had relied to say the amended proposed accommodation in the redevelopment would be acceptable for Holborn Studios.

Claim for judicial review was also brought by Del Brenner, secretary of amenity group the Regents Network, that Hackney’s planning sub-committee failed to take into account policies relating to the ‘Blue Ribbon Network’ of waterways.

Hackney contended there was no requirement for consultation about the amendments as judging whether they involved a substantial or fundamental difference was a matter for the local planning authority.

The judge said officers appeared to have assumed there was no need to re-consult because in their view the changes proposed were positive and would not cause any significant adverse impact.

“But that was not the right question nor an answer to it,” he said. “The question they needed to consider was whether, without re-consultation, any of those who were entitled to be consulted on the application would be deprived of the opportunity to make any representations that they may have wanted to make on the application as amended.”

It did not follow that no-one might take a contrary view simply because the officers involved welcomed the changes.

Judge Howell said: “The procedure followed in relation to the amendments… deprived the claimants and others of a fair opportunity to make such representations as they might have wanted to make about them and that materially prejudiced the claimants. The procedure followed in the circumstances was so unfair as to be unlawful.”

He said the council’s failure to allow Holborn Studios to inspect the two unredacted letters “substantially prejudiced Holborn Studios and was unfair and unlawful”.

But the judge dismissed Mr Brenner’s case, saying there was “no challenge to the merits of the judgments made by officers or by members on such issues given the information available to them”.

A Hackney spokesperson said: “The planning application for the redevelopment of Holborn Studios was given a resolution for approval at“The judicial review was upheld on procedural grounds and we accept the ruling.”

 

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