The bridge across Albion Channel near Brass Talley Alley was replaced a few weeks ago as part of works to upgrade the cycle route for Cycleway / Quietway 14.

But the new bridge – installed at a cost of £115,000 – isn’t to everyone’s taste, with the ‘offensive’ blue handrail drawing particular disapproval.

So far 11 people have signed a petition to Southwark Council calling for the handrail to be repainted:

The consensus among the residents in the area is that the new bridge does not suit the style of the canal and the surrounding buildings at all. The most offensive feature — and easiest to remedy — is the blue railing. The blue is at odds with the colours of all surrounding buildings and should be changed.

Plans to knock down the Albion pub at the corner of Albion Street and Neptune Street and replace it with a block of eight flats have been approved by Southwark Council.

In their submission to the council, Michael Trentham Architects say that: “The building which currently occupies the site is struggling with its fitness for purpose and although recognised locally as a landmark, it does not help or contribute to the shopping parade.

“The Neo Tudor style was common during the interwar years and as noted in the heritage statement, the current building is not a particularly good example of this.

“The proposed building has been carefully crafted and designed with carefully considered materials to enhance its context whilst providing much needed housing and a flexible commercial space that will be attractive to a wide range of occupants.

“This is in accordance with strategic Policy 10 of the Core Strategy 2011 and will help regenerate, preserve and enhance the historic shopping parade on Albion Street.

“The proposed building preserves and enhances the setting of the historic Grade II listed Finnish and Norwegian Churches, complementing both with a new urban vernacular that uses traditional materials but has a modern, bold composition and form.

“The building sits within its boundary and frames, not obstructing the views of the buildings, thus preserving their historical value and character of the area.”

Further details on the Southwark planning register.

Image by Loz Flowers used under a Creative Commons licence

Southwark Council’s cabinet this week agreed to launch a consultation on the future of South Dock Marina and Boatyard.

Tuesday’s cabinet meeting heard a public question and a deputation from members of the bertholders’ association who aired concerns about future residential development which could generate complaints from residents about noisy activity at the boatyard.

In his foreword to the cabinet report, Cllr Richard Livingstone wrote: “The ideas set out in the report include how the marina could be expanded to better meet the demand for people to live on the marina; how the infrastructure of the area could be improved to meet the needs of berth holders and the broader community; how the space at the boatyard could be developed to both enhance its operation and provide new council homes; and how to give berth holders greater certainty on future fee increases.”

You can watch the cabinet meeting here:

Southwark Council is to buy the former Red Lion Boys’ Club in Hawkstone Road with the aim of developing new council homes on the site.

The now defunct boys’ club occupied a building that was previously a church on a prominent site near Surrey Quays Station.

The council believes that around 150 new homes could be created in two-tower development if adajcent land already in council ownership is included in the scheme.

The purchase was approved at Southwark’s cabinet last week, with Cllr Leo Pollak telling colleagues that the site has “really significant potential” for new council housing.

Cllr Pollak wrote: The former Red Lion Boys Club site not only creates an opportunity for significant numbers of new council homes but also creates the opportunity for the re-provision and expansion of the community hall for the benefit of the estate TRA as well as the wider community, which we will required as part of any brief for the site.”

The council made a previous attempt to purchase the site in 2015 but its £2.5 million bid was not accepted.

According to the council’s report on the proposed purchase, the site’s registration as an asset of community value under Localism Act has lapsed.

Proposals to extend the historic China Hall pub in Lower Road to incorporate four flats have been vetoed by Southwark planning officers.

Owners Hamna Wakaf Ltd applied to Southwark Council to add side extensions and a mansard roof to the existing pub building.

In their decision notice, Southwark planners said: “The proposed development by virtue of its poor design, layout, scale and inappropriate materials would fail to respond positively to its surroundings.

“The inappropriate scale and design of the building would be an incongruous feature within the street scene which would adversely affect the character and appearance the surrounding area.”

The case officer’s report also noted that “the scheme does not provide sufficient mitigation measures to allow for the successful continued use of the pub”.

The China Hall has a 300-year history; learn more in this article by Andie Byrnes.

The pub is registered as an asset of community value (ACV) under the Localism Act.

Details of the planning application can be seen at 19/AP/0136

Transport for London has delayed the next round of public consultation on the Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf Bridge as it tries to trim the cost of the scheme, a City Hall committee has been told.

TfL has allocated £330 million to the walking and cycling scheme in its business plan.

Public consultation was due to open last month but has been delayed whilst TfL tries to tweak the scheme to try to keep the cost of the bridge within £330 million.

David Hughes, TfL’s investment delivery planning director, told the London Assembly budget & performance committee: “We’ve deferred the start of the consultation to allow further work on value engineering aspects of the scheme, going back looking at certain of the requirements around alignment [and] the navigation requirements of the Port of London to see if we can take out part of the cost before going to consultation.”

Alex Williams, TfL’s director of city planning, added: “We will seek contributions from the private sector to help deliver it” – but he warned that the amounts to be extracted from Canada Water developers British Land and Canary Wharf Group “are not going to be huge”.

Mr Hughes was unable to give Assembly members a new timetable for the next public consultation on the bridge.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has ‘taken over’ the controversial Biscuit Factory planning application from Southwark Council, with a final decision to be made during a public hearing at City Hall.

Earlier this year Southwark’s planning committee unanimously rejected the 1,300-home scheme put forward by the Duke of Westminster’s Grosvenor property firm for a development spanning the former Peek Freans biscuit factory and the old Scott Lidgett School site.

Southwark and Grosvenor failed to reach consensus on three key areas:

  • the cost of building the scheme
  • the expected level of rental income from the flats
  • the ongoing costs of managing the completed development

In his formal letter ‘taking over’ the planning application and granting himself the status of local planning authority, Sadiq Khan wrote:

“In making this decision, I must also have regard to targets identified in development plans. As set out in the attached report, I recognise that Southwark Council has taken a positive approach to approving new homes in the borough during the period 2014 to 2017, and is currently securing planning approval for additional housing just below target levels. Notwithstanding this, I note that the proportion of affordable housing secured relative to overall housing consented during this period is significantly below Southwark’s Local Plan target of 35% and represents a significant undersupply of affordable housing in the pipeline.

“Furthermore, and having regard to final delivery of new homes, I note that this is below Southwark’s target levels for both housing and affordable housing, and that this shortfall is particularly acute in the case of affordable housing.

“In my view the proposed development has potential to make an important contribution to housing and affordable housing supply in response to London Plan policies 3.3 and 3.11. Additionally, I am aware of the significant further planning considerations in this case which include but are not limited to; potential educational improvements, employment creation and public realm improvements. Having regard to the above, and noting the potential contribution of the proposed development, I wish to fully consider this case as the local planning authority.”

A date for the City Hall hearing has yet to be set.

Southwark Council has served an enforcement notice on the owners of the Old Justice Pub on Bermondsey Wall East after work was carried out on the grade II listed building.

Meanwhile applications for planning permission (19/AP/0438) and listed building consent (19/AP/0439) have now been submitted to the council for works to create a roof extension to accommodate a new flat.

Southwark’s planning committee unanimously turned down the massive Biscuit Factory planning application on Wednesday night.

As we reported last week, Southwark planning officers recommended that elected members should refuse planning permission for Grosvenor’s massive scheme spanning the former Peek Freans biscuit factory and the old Scott Lidgett School site.

The Duke of Westminster’s Grosvenor property firm wants to build around 1,300 homes which would stay in the company’s ownership and be rented directly to tenants.

The meeting heard that the key issue is a difference in opinion between the council and the developer on three key points:

  • the cost of building the scheme
  • the expected level of rental income from the flats
  • the ongoing costs of managing the completed development

Grosvenor insists that its proposed affordable housing offer – with around 27 per cent of the homes to be let at less than market rent – is the maximum that can viably be provided.

The council’s independent viability consultants consider that the scheme could offer a larger number of affordable homes at a deeper level of discount from market prices.

Under Grosvenor’s proposals, a couple wanting to rent one of the discounted Biscuit Factory homes would need to earn around £30,000 each to qualify.

Following the council’s decision, the Mayor of London will have the opportunity to ‘take over’ the application. If this happens, then a public hearing would be held at City Hall.

“After many years of working collaboratively with the council and community to develop proposals for a highly accessible and exemplary scheme we are obviously disappointed by the committee’s decision,” said Craig McWilliam, CEO, Grosvenor Britain & Ireland.

“Our proposals are for a neighbourhood accessible to the growing majority of Londoners who simply cannot afford to buy, do not qualify for social housing and want the many advantages of a secure, professionally managed home to rent.

“This includes Southwark’s many health, education, public order and fire service workers who can through, our proposals, afford to live close to where they work.”

A side-effect of this week’s decision is likely to be a delay to the construction of a permanent building for the Compass secondary school. Councillors urged Grosvenor to submit a separate planning application for the school, which would occupy land owned by Grosvenor but is otherwise funded independently from the rest of the development.

Southwark’s planning committee will meet next Wednesday to consider Grosvenor’s plans to redevelop the Biscuit Factory and former Southwark College sites in Bermondsey.

The Duke of Westminster’s Grosvenor property firm wants to build more than 1,300 homes in a series of building up to 28 storeys high.

Rather than a conventional development of homes for sale, Grosvenor is proposing a build-to-rent scheme which will see it retain ownership of the site.

However, the firm has not been able to reach agreement with the council over the maximum viable provision of affordable housing.

Planning officers are recommending that planning permission be refused due to insufficient affordable housing, as well as concerns over density, highway safety and pedestrian routes through the railway arches.

Grosvenor has offered 27.37% affordable housing, based on habitable rooms, with an average discount of 25% below market rents (ie rents payable of up to 75% of market rents). This would equate to 976 habitable rooms, or 322 of the 1342 homes.

The council points out that to be able to live in Grosvenor’s proposed ‘affordable’ homes, couples or sharers would need to be earning around £30,000 each.

Southwark planners contend that not only would the the proposed affordable homes fail to help those in the most serious housing need, but that Grosvenor could afford to provide a greater number of homes below market rental prices at a deeper discount.

A Grosvenor spokesperson said: “Our proposals are for a neighbourhood that is accessible to the growing majority of Londoners who simply cannot afford to buy, do not qualify for social housing  and want the advantages of a secure professionally managed home to rent.

“This includes Southwark’s many health, education, public order and fire service workers who want to, and can through our proposals, live close to where they work.”

The meeting is scheduled to take place at the council’s Tooley Street offices on Wednesday 6 February at 6.30pm. It is likely to be webcast at www.youtube.com/southwarkcouncil

You can see the papers for the meeting here.