April 2007 Archives
I was talking to an agent from one of the top London firms yesterday regarding the state of the planning system in the Boroughs. He said that in some instances the planning departments are so understaffed and so underfunded that they are in part funded by developers. How can this be? Here's how it works, in order for developers to get to even the pre-planning stage with their application they have to pay the Council a sum of money ....so that the Council can then employ a planning officer ....who will then look at the developers application.... and then most probably reject it. I have no idea if this is true or not but somehow it doesn't surprise me in the least..
Looking westwards on Battersea Bridge you could be forgiven for thinking that the Lots Road Power Station development had finally kicked off, the public enquiries, the Prescott controversy, eco-warrior Lady Dido Berkeley and the River Thames Society now all in the past...sadly you'd be wrong. What you can see is the residential element of the Octagon development at Chelsea Wharf. As sites go this one is super-prime but if you're looking to buy you'd be too late. All twelve were bought last year for a reputed £30 million by... (anything with sweet in its title is a bit of a giveaway these days) CPC, a Guernsey based company headed by Candy & Candy.
Developers are sometimes required to provide a financial contribution for the provision of public art in and around their developments as part of the S106 agreement....this is what 30 grand gets you
The South American born architect Rafael Viñoly has just beaten off the competition, which included Norman Foster and SOM, to win the contest to masterplan the Battersea Power Station development. Bought from Parkview by Treasury Holdings, for a reported £400 million late last year, the station, which in its glory days pumped out a staggering 509 megawatts of electricity, has as been out of commission since 1982. Here's the odd bit, the Power Station was designed in 1923 by the architect Giles Gilbert Scott who was also responsible for another British icon - the K2, better known as the red telephone box. Rafael Viñoly is also the designer of 20 Fenchurch Street, better known as the the Mobile Phone or Walkie Talkie.....of course the oddest thing of all is how an iconic structure such as Battersea Power Station could have been left derelict for so many years....
I've been living in Wandsworth now for over five years, and all of that time have been in gainful employment within EGi, hence more than a passing interest in some buildings and spaces in the area.
There's a small public garden, although I use the term in the widest possible sense, on St John's Hill that has been vacant every time bar two I've been past. One of those times a gardener was making improvements and the other a gentleman of no fixed abode was relieving a call of nature. Whilst providing gainful employment for those of a green fingered bent and lavatorial facilities for those less fortunate than ourselves are doubtless admirable aims, I find it hard to imagine that this is the best use of space for a bit of prime real estate in South West London, within easy walking distance of the busiest mainline railway station in Europe.
Whilst I wholeheartedly endorse the idea of providing facilities for the community, I feel the quality of these have to be taken into consideration. The nearest bit of green space is less than 200 metres away and another 400 sees you on the edges of Wandsworth Common. Given the value of the land, substantial improvements could be made to the borough's numerous open spaces and the plot could be given over to providing housing, affordable or otherwise, or virtually any other form of development.
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