40 Pelham Street London SW7 2NN
Change of use from offices (B1) to provide 7 retail units (A1), two storey extension at rear of the building and creation of off street servicing bay at the western end.
I act on behalf of the Pelham Residents Association and have been instructed to lodge the following objection to the Wellcome Trust proposals for 40 Pelham Street.
In summary the Pelham Residents Association objects to the proposal on the grounds that it conflicts with Core Strategy policies in that it is:
- Detrimental to Residential Amenity
- Hazardous to Highway Safety
- Hazardous to Pedestrian Safety
- Lacks Waste storage and recycling space
- Reduces the supply of off- street Parking
- Reduces the supply of valuable office space
- Adversely impacts the vitality and viability of the Brompton Cross retail area.
- Adversely affects the setting of Grade II*listed buildings
- Adversely affects the setting of the Thurloe Conservation Area
- An objection is also made on the grounds that this third application fails to address the reasons for refusal for the second application – PP/14/08206.
The Associations’ detailed objections to the proposal and the conflict with RBK&C Policies are detailed below.
- Detrimental Impact upon Residential Amenity
The Wellcome Trust proposal for 7 retail units at Pelham Street should be refused as it directly conflicts with the Boroughs’ Core Vision in the Core Strategy (CV1 ) which seeks to:
“Uphold our residential quality of life so that we remain the best place in which to live in London.”
Directly to the rear of 22 homes on Pelham Place and Pelham Crescent the proposal will introduce:
- seven independently operated retail units;
- a delivery & service yard;
- Two mechanical plant enclosures;
- Roof sited air source heat pumps;
- Waste storage?? (Not detailed but referred to in application);
- A two storey flat roof extension.
The proposal would introduce constant noise, smell and disruption directly to the rear of these homes. This impact is detailed below.
- Impact of Delivery Yard on Residential Amenity – contrary to Policy CL5 – Policy CE6
- Type of noise
The delivery yard will generate background and impulsive noise (bangs, shouts, slamming) caused by:
– manoeuvring vehicles, reversing alarms, engines idling, vehicle doors slamming, ramps banging;
– trolleys and waste bins being conveyed back and forth to retail units, to and from the yard along the passageway via the rear residents access;
– staff arriving and leaving premises at all hours, via the yard entrance.
The nature and duration of these disturbances is exacerbated by the remoteness of the delivery yard from the retail units at the east end of the site – over 90m away. This will result in deliveries taking longer than would normally be required.
- Duration of noise / Hours of Operations
The Application form fails to provide any details on hours of operation, whilst the Agents’ Noise Report suggests operating hours of 7am to 11pm. This is excessive so close to residential properties: staff would be arriving before 7am and leaving after 11pm these conditions are not compatible with the ‘good quality of life’ the Borough seeks to protect.
The Agents’ anticipated number of deliveries is two per hour or(on RBKC hours):
– 28 deliveries per day Monday to Saturday;
– 22 deliveries on Sundays.
This does not include waste collection, or maintenance vehicles which will also use the service yard.
The noise and disturbance generated by this intensive use of the yard for servicing seven retail units would severely degrade the living conditions of adjoining homes and gardens. Such disturbance would be occurring at times when residents could reasonably expect relative quiet, (late evening, early morning).
- Critique of Noise Impact Assessment by Clarke Saunders (CS) report
The Noise Impact Assessment submitted with application is flawed. The Pelham Residents Association commissioned a review by Mach Acoustics (which is included in this latest application by the Agent!) The outstanding unresolved issues are:
- The CS report has only considered noise generation from, “Transit-sized vans only, without tail gates or reversing alarms, and without delivery cages”. Clearly any vehicle which has these features will generate greater noise. The submitted noise assessment is not therefore sufficiently accurate or robust to reflect actual deliveries.
- The report relies on the delivery yard boundary wall being 3m in height – this is not the case. The rear boundary walls vary in height between 1.8m and 2.6m Hence all the calculations with regards to noise penetration to nearby homes are not reliable.
- The noise assessment relies on delivery taking 36seconds or a maximum of 1minute, the manoeuvring required within the constrained delivery yard is likely to take longer.
- Intrusive lighting
Floodlighting will be required in the delivery yard to facilitate its use during hours of darkness and for security reasons. This illumination will lead to the intrusive glare of lighting into resident’s homes and gardens. and adversely impact upon the quality of life of residents and their ability to enjoy their homes and gardens. Intensive lighting will completely change the character of this domestic rear garden landscape.
- Loss of Security
Issues of security are raised by the open delivery yard. No gates are shown; presumably this area will be accessible day and night. This will compromise the security of residents’ properties and access to their rear entrances. In planning permission PP/11/00506 for the installation of the existing security gates the applicants cite the following as a reason for installing the gates:
“the car park itself is difficult to manage and suffers from unauthorised parking , vandalism, fly tipping and trespassing”. (Page 6 para. 2.7 of the application). The removal of the security gates will permit these problems to re-emerge causing problems of personal safety and security for residents.
ii). Impact of Two Storey Extension on Residential Amenity – contrary to Policy CL5, CL9 & UDP CD47
The two storey extension is in breach of the issues listed below which Policy CL9 states the Council will resist:
- Extends rearward beyond the building line;
- Rises above the height of nearby extensions;
- Diminishes an important gap or view (between the Grade II* buildings and their former coach house site).
- Reduces access to the rear of the property and those adjoining.
No justification has been provided to override the requirements of this policy.
The two storey rear extension would create an overbearing sense of enclosure for neighbouring properties. The proposal virtually doubles the depth of the existing structure and intrudes well beyond the rear build line into what is currently a domestic space. The visual bulk of the building is accentuated by the flat roof design, which will appear as an incongruous feature in this domestic garden setting.
The extension projects towards resident’s homes at a height of 7m within 1m of garden walls. This is an imposing structure which will have an oppressive and dominant effect on homes and gardens.
iii). Impact of Garden Access Corridor on Residential Amenity – contrary to Policy CL5, UDP CD49 & SPD on Designing Out Crime
- The proposal removes resident parking, which is currently protected by condition. The proposal will force residents to negotiate on foot the delivery access and yard – a dangerous prospect. Once across this area, they will pass through a security gate into a narrow, fully enclosed and intimidating pedestrian corridor. This takes a contrived route past all the rear gates and affords no clear sightlines. This design would create conditions for crime and the fear of crime.
- The right of access route is also to be used as the service route between the yard and retail units. All deliveries and garden debris currently transported via the rear gates would have to be brought through the narrow access corridor and then via the delivery yard.. The corridor is extremely narrow at 900mm wide (due to the support pillars). This makes dual use – pedestrians and servicing – dangerous and impossible. This will discourage residents from using their rightful access.
- Envisage the wall with brick piers (see image over page) enclosed by another solid wall only 900mm from the projecting piers, for a length of 100m.
- Hazardous to Highway Safety – contrary to Policy CT1 CR3 CR7 & TR44
Policy CT1 (h) requires “new development to incorporate measures to improve road safety, and in particular the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists and resist development that compromises road safety”.
This proposal does not include road safety measures; it will increase the dangers to pedestrians; introduce hazards for cyclists and motorcyclists (caused by on street parked vehicles); it compromises road safety.
- Servicing seven independent retail units from such a contrived access and remote yard will severely hinder the free flow of traffic on Pelham Street. The proposal will generate in and out vehicular use of the narrow site entrance, currently only used for exiting the site. Vehicles will be required to wait in both lanes of the highway to enter the site, whilst other vehicles manoeuvre or exit. This will impede traffic on Pelham Street. Parked vehicles and reversing delivery vans will be a particular hazard for cyclists and motorcyclists.
This image – looking east – shows the narrow nature of Pelham Street; the incidence of existing on- street deliveries; and the poor visibility afforded by the proposed access.
- Due to high boundary walls there is poor inter-visibility from the access and this is likely to result in vehicular / vehicular conflict. The poor visibility is exacerbated by the position of the Bus Stop bay, only 4m from the delivery yard entrance/exit.
- Pelham Street junctions have experienced high incidence of traffic related accidents,. The Boroughs’ own Highway Department has unpublished data on the high level of accidents along Pelham Street in the last three years alone. To introduce a single access/egress point for seven retail units on this compromised part of the highway network is contrary to road safety objectives of the Core Strategy.
- Pelham Street experiences high traffic flows as it feeds traffic between the Fulham Road and Old Brompton Road. The carriageway is particularly narrow along the frontage of the proposed development. The service yard is 90m from the end units; this will encourage vehicles to be loaded/ unloaded in the highway; this will cause severe obstruction to the free flow of traffic. There is the potential for on street deliveries to cause traffic queues across the Fulham Rd. / Brompton Rd junction immediately east of the site.
- Critique of Transport Statement by Motion
This report, submitted with the application, is incomplete for the following reasons.
- It fails to consider existing traffic flows and the impact of an in/out access on the free flow of traffic.
- It fails to address the highway obstruction problems of only one delivery vehicle being able to service the site at any one time.
- It fails to consider the impact of on street deliveries and waste collection on traffic flows.
- An Assessment of the highway implications of this application has been prepared by Paul Mew Associates on behalf of the Pelham Residents Association. This Assessment is attached at Appendix 1 of this letter. This independent report identifies that:
- The swept path analysis relates to an unusually small 4.6T delivery van not a 6m transit van.
- No swept path is provided for a left turn in and and left turn out – this would show vehicles crossing the centre line of the carriageway into oncoming traffic.
- The constrained delivery yard cannot accommodate a range of typical delivery van sizes – this will lead to on- street parking.
- Vehicle to vehicle visibility splays at the access are below the Transport SPD 2008 standards.
Below is an image (2014) showing the type of delivery vehicles used by local ‘high end’ retailers in Walton Street / Brompton Cross. Walton Street has similar parking restrictions to Pelham Street.
There are 3 delivery vehicles in this scene. It is unrealistic to suggest that such large vehicles would not also service the Pelham Street units.
- There are insufficient cycle racks for the development; 9 are required by the transport SPD, but only 6 are provided.
- Hazardous to Pedestrian Safety – contrary to Policy CV13, CT1, CR3, CR7 & TR44, Transport SPD 2008; TfL Pedestrian Comfort Guidance
- The minimum acceptable footpath width (TfL) is 2m – to introduce a busy retail frontage of 7 units onto this 1.3 -1.8m wide substandard pavement is contrary to TfL pedestrian safety standards as set out in its Pedestrian Comfort Guidance.
- The submitted Transport Statement attempts to use the TfL Guidance to justify its case whilst ignoring that the substandard width of the pavement falls outside TfLs acceptability parameters. This is not about ‘pedestrian numbers and crowding’; this is about the ability of pedestrians to pass safely without stepping into the highway. The Guidance demonstrates that without a substantial increase in the width of Pelham Street the development proposal is unacceptable.
- The proposed seven retail outlets and delivery yard and unacceptable in highway safety terms:
- Delivery vehicles will reverse in to the yard across pedestrian flows.
- Pedestrians and vehicle inter-visibility at the yard access is below RBKC Transport SPD standards.
- Customers accessing and exiting across the path of pedestrians on a substandard pavement.
- On street and on curb deliveries obstruct the pavement.
- Deliveries cannot be prevented from being trolleyed along the pavement from the delivery yard.
- Waste bins awaiting collection will obstruct the pavement or service yard.
- Various paraphernalia, (A boards, plants, fascia and shop front signage) cluttering and narrowing the pavement and obstructing the passage of pedestrians.
The development would adversely affect pedestrian links along Pelham Street contrary to Core Vision 13. All the above is contrary to the Better Travel Choices objectives of the Core Strategy.
- Lack of waste refuse and recycling storage – Contrary to Policy CE3
Policy CE3 (c) requires “provision of adequate refuse and recycling storage space which allows for ease of collection in all developments”
There is no provision in the scheme for the storage of 7 large commercial waste bins; the application confirms waste will be wheeled to the kerbside and collected from the kerbside – this will obstruct pedestrians and traffic.
- Impact of Loss of off street Car Parking – contrary to Policy CT1, CR3 CR7 & UDP TR44
The Parking Survey – carried out as part of the Transport Statement – is flawed and cannot be relied upon to provide accurate data. The errors are:
- i) The survey was conducted during the Easter holidays – the Lambeth methodology states surveys should not be undertaken during holiday periods.
- ii) The Lambeth methodology says that ‘barriers’ should be taken in to account – the Fulham Road is such a barrier, there being limited pedestrian crossing points – it is unrealistic to suggest residents would park their cars on the other side of Fulham Road.
iii) The 200m zone of assessment is actually 300m, having been measured from both ends of the 100m long site.
- iv) The time the surveys were conducted is contrary to the Lambeth methodology, which requires that near stations (such as South Kensington), surveys should be carried out between 7&8am and 6&7pm. Local residents are aware that the greatest pressure is on daytime parking, due to permit holders from north of the Borough parking in and around Pelham Street to access the S. Kensington tube station.
Taking these flaws into account the possible 50 spaces identified has no credibility, the figure would be significantly reduced.
- The displacement of residents parking has resulted in increased traffic congestion and exacerbation of parking problems on neighbouring streets.
- Regardless of ownership, all the 31 existing parking spaces are protected by a planning condition. Condition 7 on approval PP/02/02023 requires these parking spaces to be retained:
“to accommodate cars belonging to residents in adjoining streets and no other use of the space shall be made without prior written approval”.
It is within the power of RBK&C to retain this valuable land use, which plays a vital role in the supply of off-street parking in this congested part of the Borough.
- Adverse impact of loss of office space – contrary to Policy CF5 (Location of business uses)
In July 2014 RBKC commissioned a report by Frost Meadowcroft – Office Market Review and Viability .
- This identified that mews type offices in South Kensington were “highly sought after”.
- The report identifies the 630m2 of floorspace currently on offer at Pelham Street as the most commonly sought after size of accommodation.
- The report adds: “The pressure on office stocks from Permitted Development Rights in neighbouring Boroughs has reduced availability in surrounding areas and therefore increased demand in RBKC “
- The report identifies the current availability rate – 3.4% – as the lowest recorded since the all-time low of 3.1% in January 2013.
- The Report confirms that office floor space (grade ‘B’) of Pelham Streets’ size, and Pelham Streets’ location is viable. The report confirms “the office market is buoyant and viable right across the Borough from the south to the north” This contradicts the agents claims to the contrary.
- The report concludes: “The levels of demand show that there is an availability shortfall and that the Borough clearly requires further stock to meet this demand” and that…..“the Council continues to fall behind its nominal ‘target’ of providing 2,500sq m of additional business floorspace each year”.
- It goes on….“Recent Core Strategy has shown wider policy for preserving existing stock and a target to generate an additional 2,500 sq m per annum over the next 4 years. If this policy is to be met the council should consider methods of encouraging additional office development and retaining existing stock.“
RBKC commissioned a TBR Consultants report 2013; its’ Executive Summary states:
“Currently the borough’s planning policies protect office floorspace. It is essential that this protection remains in place in the interests of the economic and social wellbeing of the borough, London and for the UK.
- The proposal will result in the loss of 630sqm of highly accessible, mews style office space, WITH CAR PARKING – an exceptional facility in this sought after location. This is precisely the type of offices identified as in high demand in the Frost Meadowcroft and TBR Reports.
- Any RBKC approval of this application would be diametrically opposed to the findings of its own commissioned reports and completely contrary to RBKCs established position on the need to protect all office space within the Borough. The Council clearly accepts that office floorspace needs to protected to achieve a balanced local economy. To allow the change of use to retail conflicts with all recent evidence.
- In a market this strong the Pelham Street offices have clearly not been marketed correctly – or at all. They are not available on any website and according to the agent were last marketed 18months ago – although – no dates are given, no details are provided of websites, databases or agencies used. A database search by Colliers and by independent agents has found no record of the marketing of this site. (Colliers Assessment Appendix2)
- Colliers acknowledge refurbishment is required, but are confident they could easily let the offices for in excess of £42.00 per sqft – £8.00psqft more than the average for Grade B in this area – in the current buoyant climate using appropriate marketing.
- In the last application (PP/14/08206) officers justified the change of use to retail on the grounds that there was a need for retail development in the borough – this “robbing Peter to pay Paul” approach is not supported by Policy. The site is not within a town centre; offices of this scale are in great demand; office floor space is diminishing whilst retail is growing – the priority as established in the Frost Meadowcroft report is to protect office floorspace.
- Offices make a greater contribution to the economy than retail in that: they employ more staff per m2; pay higher wages; have more permanent and full time positions and provide greater opportunity for a wider skills base and career progression. Hence offices are more economically desirable than retail. No justification exists for permitting the loss of this office accommodation in favour of retail.
- Adverse impact on vitality and viability of Brompton Cross & South Kensington retail centre – contrary to Policy CF1 (Location of new shops) CP 12 & Policy CV13, CP13 (Brompton Cross)
- The subject site is not within a defined town centre and is contrary to Policy CF1 (b). Furthermore retail in this part of Pelham Street is not part of the Vison for Brompton Cross as set out in Core Vision 13. At nearly 1,000m2 the scheme is not small scale; and as such it has the capacity to threaten the vitality of this retail centre with an extensive 90m plus frontage of seven retail units.
Critique of Savills Retail Impact Assessment
- The Report presents no evidence that there is a shortfall in the retail offer in the Brompton Cross / South Kensington location.
- The Sequential Test as applied in the Report is predicated on the assertion that the 777m2 of seven units cannot be subdivided or reduced; consequently a site search for 777m2 has found no other sites available. Clearly these are self-contained units; each unit is capable of independent operation; the units are of variable sizes;
There is no retailing or operational requirement for all 777m2 to be provided in one location. The proposal therefore fails the disaggregation test of the NPPF.
- Savills own survey points to a Brompton Cross retail vacancy rate of 6% and compares this to the national rate. But this is a disingenuous comparison as it is well known London has its own economic market. The Knight Frank, Central London Retail Market Report (Winter 2014) clearly identifies a retail vacancy rate for Central London of just 2.8%. A BNP Paribas Report Q2 2015 shows the West End retail vacancy rate at only 2.5%. Brompton Cross retail unit vacancy rates are high at more than twice the London average. A further seven units would clearly harm the vitality and viability of this retail centre.
- Savills Retail Assessment fails to factor in the Transport for London redevelopment proposal for 0.7hectares at South Kensington Station. This currently envisages an additional 7,874sq ft of retail floor space alone. The seven additional units on Pelham Street will result in a flooded retail market; their location outside the Brompton Cross and South Kensington centres will undermine the economic viability of retail units within these centres.
- The Councils’ Policy CV13 only refers to Pelham Street with specific identification of the “land along the underground cutting”, the TfL plans address this site. 40 Pelham Street is clearly not the underground cutting.
- Impact of development on Grade II* Listed Buildings – contrary to Policy CL4
Pelham Crescent and Pelham Place form an exceptional group of Grade II* and Grade II listed properties; identified as being of intrinsic importance and having national significance. At present the application site sympathetically co-exists with its residential neighbours.
- The demolition of garages attached to boundary walls will have a damaging impact upon the fabric of Grade II* and Grade II properties. Where dividing walls are keyed in this will damage the historic fabric of these properties. No assessment of the structural integrity of the garden walls has been carried out to consider the effect of demolishing the garages.
- The setting of the listed terraces would be severely intruded upon by the proposed two storey extension. The setting of the Crescent and Place is inter -relational with the site on Pelham Street, it has historically served as the stables for these properties. At present the building forms a continuous block contained within a defined front and rear building line. The extension substantially breaches the building line to the rear, encroaching by a significant degree in to the garden setting of the listed terraces. It is clearly contrary to Policy CL9 regarding extensions – see section 1. Residential amenity.
- The outlook from and setting of the listed properties and their gardens, particularly 11,12,and 13 Pelham Crescent and 4,6,8 10 and 12 Pelham Place will be severely harmed by the overbearing and intrusive projection of the two storey, flat roof structure.
- The Noise Impact Assessment and Design and Access statement refer to the fixing of acoustic panels to the rear boundary walls of the listed properties, this requires listed building consent.
- Impact of development on the Conservation Area – contrary to Policy CL3 & UDP CD63
- The large extension fails to preserve or enhance the conservation area and is contrary to Policy CL3. The flat roof two storey extension will appear as a dominant and discordant feature affecting the setting of the conservation area, which surrounds the site. Views within, across and out from the conservation area will be sorely impacted by this inappropriate and intrusive extension, which in design terms bears no relation to the appearance of any of the buildings in the locality. The extension would not preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the conservation area in this context.
- The character and appearance of the conservation area will be significantly harmed by the proposal. The introduction of a delivery yard, associated storage and activity, plus plant enclosure will be unsympathetic to the domestic character and appearance of this part of the conservation area. This is considered in the ‘Partial review of the Core Strategy’ as an important feature of Conservation when it states: “The distinctive character of many buildings comes from their use, their role in the community, the facilities they provide and the activity they generate as much as their physical appearance.”
- Fails to address the reasons for refusal of the previous application PP/14/08206
Reason 2 – no evidence has been submitted to demonstrate what the impact would be on the grade II* listed walls. Neither has it been shown that the proposal would not harm the setting of these listed buildings or the character or appearance of the conservation area. The flat roof two storey rear extension is unaltered in scale, design, position or materials. No reasoning is provided as to why this is acceptable within the setting of the listed buildings or conservation area.
Reason 3 – the service yard remains remote (90metres) from the units at the east end of the site. The Service Management Plan cannot enforce deliveries to a service yard of inadequate size and remote location, it is unreasonable and therefore unenforceable in planning terms. Goods will be transported across the pavement from vehicles parked on the highway and along the pavement by drivers not able or willing to enter the service yard.
Reason 4 – the revised scheme:
- fails to widen the pavement;
- fails to remove the lighting columns (they are relocated such that the pavement remains the same width regardless).
- Fails to improve highway or pedestrian safety at the service yard entrance/exit.
Consequently the pavement remains too narrow to accommodate the increased pedestrian footfall and frontage activity.
This application is seriously flawed on many levels. The inadequacies of this scheme cannot be overcome by conditions, or the Service Management Plan. The number and arrangement of retail units and limitations of the service yard render any such Plan impractical and hence unenforceable.
The scheme is in conflict with a whole series of policies within the RBKC Core Strategy and extant UDP. There are no factors, either individually or collectively, which are sufficient to outweigh these significant material objections. The application should therefore be refused in accordance with the Development Plan.
The implications of the development are so serious for residents and businesses in the area that the Pelham Residents Association formally request the application is determined by the Planning Committee.
BSC Hons Dip TP DMS MRTPI
Appendices:Appendix1 – Paul Mew Associates Transport Assessment for Pelham Residents Association
Appendix 2 – Colliers Office Accommodation Assessment for Pelham Residents Association