On Wednesday 16th October, Councillor Jon Davies handed in our petition to the Mayor of Lambeth, calling on the Leader of Lambeth Council and the Lambeth Council Planning Committee to reject the U+I/LFB planning application for 8 Albert Embankment (19/01304/FUL).
Our petition has over 2000+ signatures, demonstrating widespread support for the campaign.
Thanks to Florence Eshamoli, Assembly Member for Lambeth and Southwark we finally got to meet Commissioner Dany Cotton in a meeting on Monday 14th October. We were pleased that Fiona Twycross also made the meeting despite her very busy schedule as Deputy Mayor of London (Fire & Resilience).
We asked why a public body like the London Fire Brigade does not follow public policy. In particular why is it not following the Lambeth Local Plan 2015, which clearly states that this site is not suitable for tall buildings.
We asked why the quality of the community consultation conducted by U+I appeared to be so exceptionally poor, was it a deliberate strategy to ignore the local community or was it U+I not performing?
The question now is will the GLA examine the planning strategy and U+I consultation?
The migration museum, one of the temporary uses of the London Fire Brigade Workshop on Whitgift Street/Lambeth High Street, made a supporting statement on the Lambeth Planning Portal for the proposed re-development by U+I.
It appears they have allowed themselves to be used by U+I as a tool in the company’s strategy to obtain planning permission for a £450m redevelopment. A proposal which will result in tenants at Whitgift House, directly across the road, losing 40% of their light.
Is it ethically correct? …………………we ask the Museum Association ethics committee to investigate.
We had a great supporters meeting on Tuesday 10th September with neighbours coming together from all parts of our neighbourhood – from Newport St, Lambeth Walk, Black Prince Road, Vauxhall Walk, Albert Embankment and the Whitgift Estate.
It was a chance to run through the journey our campaign has been on and to work out what next, given we expect the application to head to Planning Committee in November. The dates to reserve are 5th November and 26th November.
We drew up a number of actions to raise awareness in the community and get our case across to Lambeth Council. This will include hand-in of the petition on Wednesday 16th October, 6.30pm at Brixton Town Hall. Make sure you have this in the diary to attend.
We are winning!
On London has given our campaign the right to reply to an article by Commissioner Dany Cotton earlier this month, in which she described 8 Albert Embankment as her personal legacy project. Making it all the more surprising that despite repeated requests, she has still not agreed to meet us face to face.
You can see this article here:
Or read below:
Dany Cotton’s praise for the London Fire Brigade’s plans for redeveloping its property at 8 Albert Embankment paints a very different picture from that envisaged by the Lambeth residents who would live in its shadows. The LFB’s proposals, which have been submitted to Lambeth Council, include a 24 and a 26-storey tower, which would deprive adjacent council homes and a public park of sun and daylight, entailing significant damage to heritage buildings in the process. Furthermore, the housing element does not meet Lambeth’s target of 50 per cent being affordable and, as the Greater London Authority’s Stage 1 report on the plans says, neither does it reach Sadiq Khan’s threshold of 50 per cent of new homes built on GLA land – which the LFB site is – being affordable at a time when such housing is desperately needed by Londoners. Is this the legacy the outgoing LFB commissioner wants to leave?
The Lambeth Village community organisation, of which I am a member, believes the Lambeth fire station building could already have been refurbished and be being put to multiple good uses if the LFB had not continued to be intent on pushing through plans that are at odds with Lambeth’s planning policies. A previous attempt, in 2011 failed, falling foul of both the council’s planning committee and then the planning inspectorate on grounds of major adverse reductions in daylight for the neighbouring council estate. Now the LFB is wasting thousands upon thousands of pounds of public money on a new scheme that we believe planning policy dictates should be turned down.
It feels necessary to state that Lambeth’s planning policies are not red tape. The council’s current Local Plan has been produced through an evidence-based process, publicly consulted on, and has been through a public inquiry. It contains changes from its predecessor following the rejection of the LFB’s previous application. These set out design principles, which clearly state that the 8 Albert Embankment site is not suitable for tall buildings. Consequently, the LFB’s submitted plans are already designated a “departure application”, meaning they would ordinarily be rejected. The fact that the LFB is persisting with them suggests they have come to believe planning policy doesn’t apply to them.
We believe Lambeth’s planning officers and councillors should uphold their planning policies and reject the plans, not least keeping in mind the planning inspector’s decision last time to reject the application on the single issue of sun and daylight. A report by the Building Research Establishment, the independent body that produces sun and daylight benchmarks, has already classified the anticipated light reduction impact on adjacent council homes in this proposal “major adverse”, just like their previous failure.
Dany Cotton should be worried that an absurd repeat of history is going to happen. Local residents are calling on her to show real leadership and take action to stop this from happening. Although U + I, the LFB’s co-developer on this project, held meetings with local groups in late January and early February 2019, the scheme has been in the making since 2016, so to us the history of engagement is far too little far too late.
The proposed scheme may well provide a permanent Fire Brigade Museum to replace the current temporary one, but that would be one of the smaller elements of the development. Indeed, if it goes ahead it will be dwarfed by the 200-bed hotel next door, which will wrap around the back of the Grade II listed Fire Brigade Headquarters and across the parade ground, removing both views of significance and causing great damage to the setting. Further negative impact will come from the proposed two-storey glass box roof extension on top of the fire station.
We believe the two towers would clearly breach the protected art deco outline of the listed building (plus protected views) and cause extensive shadowing across the neighbourhood, all the way to the Garden Museum on the doorstep of Lambeth Palace. Finally, on land principally protected for employment this is clearly a residential-led development.
We appreciate that Dany Cotton relies on the advice of others in these matters. But she is personally fronting the LFB’s campaign to have its plans accepted and has so far declined to meet in person with local people. It is time for that to change and for City Hall to get involved too, ensuring neither “daylight robbery” nor damage to London’s heritage happens here for so little gain.
Will the London Fire Brigade make itself accountable for the disastrous community engagement efforts carried out by their partner, U+I, as well as the impacts their 8 Albert Embankment proposal on local people?
In July we started directly emailing Dany Cotton, Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade (the public body responsible for the U+I planning application ), asking her to review the public consultation and meet directly with the local community. We felt it was important that, as the accountable public official who commissioned the proposed development she engage directly with us, rather than through the filter of her deputies or co-developer U+I, whom we have already met.
We want Dany Cotton to review the public consultation and to hear directly about the impacts of the development on the local community. She will not get this from her staff.
It is now August 19th and what we have had back from Cotton so far have been:
However in this period, Cotton found the time to write a publicity piece about the development for the OnLondon website, espousing the virtues of the proposal, without even giving a nod to the public opposition that has been building around it.
What we have not yet had, is a commitment from her to meet those of us most impacted by the development. So while Cotton can sit at a keyboard and espouse the supposed virtues of her legacy project, she seems considerably more reluctant to come and meet the people who will live with it’s consequences and have legitimate challenges to both the consultation process and outcome.
We appreciate that committing to come out to listen to a group of frustrated residents is not likely to be anyone’s first choice for a summer evening in London, but unfortunately, that is a part of some people’s jobs. Cotton is one of those people.
We are still waiting for that commitment…
Thanks to all the supporters of the campaign to ‘stop the towers’ and ‘save our sunlight’ we currently have 250 objections on the Lambeth Planning Portal, many have thoughtful and detailed comments for the Lambeth planners to consider.
We also have over 2000 signatures on our petition see here http://chng.it/nBgGFFCnsc
This is an amazing and overwhelming response from local people and supporters.
The South London Press has run with the story of U+I’s shocking nomination for an award and our opposition to their development!
Residents are furious that plans to build luxury flats that they have opposed have been nominated for an award…
Local people wrote to Ocean Media the organisers of the Festival of Place to object to U+I being shortlisted for a Festival of Place award, the ‘Future Place’ award for 8 Albert Embankment.
We said they did not deserve an award when they had failed to design their development with the community most impacted by their proposals.
Our objections went to the judges prior to their decision and U+I did not win an award.
Below is content contained in the email to the Whitgift Estate:
Date: Wed, Jul 10, 2019 at 12:09 PM
Subject: Re: Pineapple Awards – Shortlisting of 8 Albert Embankment – Press Interest
To: Whitgift Estate <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This is to acknowledge receipt of your letter.
The Pineapples awards were presented last night and 8 Albert Embankment was not among the winners.
We are considering how to engage with communities as part of the judging process going forward.
Your letter was shared with the judges prior to them making their decision.
Please use the link below to go to our petition, which has further information laying out why we are objecting to this planning application:
Many thanks for your support and if you want more information explore the website or contact Lambethvillage@gmail.com