Local people called on the Secretary of State Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP to call in the planning application for 8 Albert Embankment – to give it the proper scrutiny of a public inquiry.
Today we can announce that he has heard the call, done the right thing – called it in!
Michael Ball of the Waterloo Community Development Group says: “It is criminal that these central London sites have been left mostly vacant for 20 years in public ownership, yet all successive Mayors can do is back schemes helicoptered in and completely out-of-scale or context, and of little use to London or Londoners, in order to try and make big bucks like the most rapacious of developers.
“Real people living in real social housing will lose up to 40 per cent of their daylight, because of safety-deposit boxes posing as housing piled 90 metres high beside them.”
Helen Perrault-Newby of the Whitgift Estate Tenants and Residents Association says:
“Social Housing tenants on our estate are to be condemned to live without adequate daylight so the London Mayor can make the biggest fat profit, by not following the planning policy design principles for this site. THIS IS WRONG.
It’s a fact, those impacted most are people of colour, pandemic key workers, children and disabled residents. It’s time for some respect.”
Paul Ettlinger of the 9 Albert Embankment Residents Association says:
“This development totally disregards the heritage of a site with 2 grade 2 listed buildings, the only ones surviving from the 1930s on the South Bank and in the setting of Lambeth Palace and the Westminster World Heritage Site.
Even the London Mayors officers raised concern at the desecration of 8 Albert Embankment, the London Fire Brigade HQ with a double height glass roof extension and wrap around hotel with some 200 rooms.
This is a heritage site and Lambeth’s own local policy dictates it should be protected, yet this planning application was agreed by the borough on the casting vote of it’s Chair of Planning. Fortunately the Secretary of State Rt Hon Robert Jenrick has seen fit to call the application in citing heritage grounds as one of the primary reasons.”
From our local councillors blog here
As ward councillors we have been determined to oppose this development believing it to be out of scale for the site. It will now be subject to a public enquiry. We support having an enquiry and will be giving evidence.
Over the last week and perhaps even more so over the coming weeks – our lives are being turned upside down as people isolate, reduce contact, change or lose work and have the children home.
I know people are checking on their vulnerable neighbours – doing their shopping, walking the dog ………. I’m sure there is much more, it’s a great community.
Here are some sources for volunteers and those looking for information & support:
If anyone knows of other support to share, do get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org – I’ll keep updating.
Take care and stay safe everyone
Last Tuesday, Lambeth Council’s planning committee voted – by a narrow margin of 4 to 3 – to ignore 3,000 petition signatures, hundreds of objections on the council planning website, Labour ward councillors and dozens of us gathered in the committee room, to approve the 8 Albert Embankment application.
This is a massive disappointment, to say the least. After hearing moving testimonies from the residents, the councillors were split 3 for/3 against, and committee chair Clare Wilcox chose to exercise her casting vote in favour of the development, seemingly for little reason other than that it had been several years since the last proposal to redevelop the site. Major issues of daylight loss, damage to local heritage, reduced levels of affordable housing and over-density, were cast aside, for a museum that could have been build through other means, a high-end hotel and hundreds of luxury investment flats that may well sit empty. Clearly this system isn’t working for local people.
The planning committee offers no appeal for the community, but the Mayor of London can ‘call in’ the decision to refuse it.
The Mayor needs to hear from all of us IMMEDIATELY as he only has 14 days to call it in! Information on writing to Sadiq Khan can be found here.
There is also the potential for a Judicial Review of the planning committee decision. A Judicial Review is a legal challenge to the decision making process and would mean a reassessment of the application. It would require a fighting fund of roughly £20-25,000. That’s a lot of money, but if we set up a funding group and many people chipped in, we could do this.
We need to take some time to assess our legal position, but if you know already that you are up for the next fight please get in touch. (email@example.com)
We also want to host another campaign meeting for those who want to build pressure outside the halls of power in Lambeth. We will send another update around shortly with a date in the New Year, but in the meantime, get in touch if you’d like to be involved.
Please write to the Mayor now and ask him to call in the decision and REFUSE the 8 Albert Embankment application.
Over the months we have met Dany Cotton, Richard Upton, Fiona Twycross and others …………but who is Ros Kerslake?
Ros Kerslake is the Chief Executive of The National Heritage Lottery Fund, the body that has given £200,000 to develop the plans for the potential new Fire Brigade Museum at 8 Albert Embankment and have made a conditional allocation of £1.7 million for internal fit out and delivery activities.
According to the public accounts for The National Heritage Lottery Fund in 2018-19 her salary and benefits were £195-£200,000.
Ros Kerslake is also a Non-Executive Director of U+I (the developer for 8 Albert Embankment which will contain the Fire Brigade Museum) and according to the accounts of U+I was paid £56,000 in salary and fees for 13 months prior to March 2019.
The Council’s sun & daylight assessment was finally made available for public scrutiny on 14th November, but we are still waiting to see all the consultee responses. Without access to seeing these, we can not understand the Council’s logic in being ‘minded to Grant Permission’.
It is shocking that the Council who will have had these for months is not making these public.
Requests have been made by our Local Councillor Jon Davies.
You can see the Council’s sun and daylight assesssment here: https://planning.lambeth.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=documents&keyVal=PPN0WTBO09600
This document argues that the residents around the 8 Albert Embankment site have unusual levels of light and that levels that are below the BRE standard are acceptable. This is not Lambeth’s planning policy position.
We have been asking to see the sun & daylight study assessment by the Council for months. Twice we have submitted FOIs to have this document, once in May and again in August 2019 – both times because we were getting no answers.
More recently we have been emailing Jack Hopkins the leader of the Council, starting on 4th November and still not even an acknowledgement!
Sun and daylight on neighbouring properties and in particular Whitgift House and 2 Whitgift Street were key in the planning appeal that ended the previous application for planning in May 2013.
Each time we ask for it – we are told the assessment is still in draft.
Is the assessment being written to suit a particular answer?
London Fire Brigade Museum appears to be used by LFB & U+I as a promotional tool for their £450m commercial redevelopment of 8 Albert Embankment. We question the ethics of directing museum visitors in this way.
People visiting the temporary museum have the option of reading the planning portal 638 documents (on a stall in reception) or a short 2 sides of A4 flyer that gives only positives, encouraging the reader to support the entire redevelopment, not just the museum – leading to comments like:
‘I would like to add my wholehearted support to this planning application. I have taken my grandson there several times and i feel that as he gets older and can understand History of the Fire Service he will enjoy it even more.’
The comment card comes ready ticked with the statement ‘I support this planning application’.
This is not open consultation of the public and consolidates the view of local community groups that the so called community consultation for this development was a sham – that there was never any intention to involve local people in the design, but instead to push through a massive capital generating over development of the site with scant regard to local impacts.
The inclusion of the Fire Brigade Museum is not the issue!
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.