Westfield and Hammerson Are Dragging Their Feet – Part 2

Continued from previous posting.

Poplar Walk

‘The approved scheme provided for the northern access to the site off Poplar Walk. This is now off Wellesley Road and requires a southbound right hand turn and the introduction of a new stop line on the northbound carriageway. The proposal also involves the removal of the existing car park ramps on Poplar Walk. The delivery and servicing exit has also been moved from Poplar Walk to an enlarged southern entrance on Wellesley Road.’

Layout

The latest proposals for the site show:

  • three full levels of retail floorspace at ground, first and second floor with a mezzanine level above.
  • servicing accommodated in the basement.
  • the leisure uses on the south western side of the site (towards North End) above the retail, with additional localised cinema height to accommodate an IMAX screen, in comparison to the approved scheme.
  • All of the car parking would be proposed on five floors at roof level on the eastern side of the site (towards Wellesley Road), above the retail uses. Plant would also be accommodated at roof level.

The planners state ‘The Council would encourage the developer to position as much plant as possible in the basement, but it is recognised that there are certain types of plant that need to be accommodated on the outside of the buildings.

Residential uses would be located within a 25 metre deep strip along Wellesley Road. There are ‘opportunities for residential use along Poplar Walk and above a replacement for the Marks and Spencer store.’(Para 5.14)

The main layout changes are:

  • the residential strip fronting Wellesley Road extending further north to incorporate the site of Green Park House.
  • No car parking at lower levels fronting Wellesley Road as the Whitgift car park the Marks and Spencer building are to be demolished.
  • ‘(A)llow the opportunity to improve the visual amenity of Poplar Walk and for an area of public realm to be created at the northern end of the site. (Para 5.15)

‘ The final position of building elements is still the subject of ongoing discussions, any comments would be welcomed from Members regarding the suitability of the positions of buildings and the location of uses.’ (Para 5.16)

The proposed five floors of car parking will be ‘highly visible from certain key viewpoints’ and the Planners are concerned about adverse impacts on the adjacent heritage assets. ……  Further discussions and refinement of this element of the scheme is required to determine what an acceptable impact would be when balanced against other planning considerations. This should be done alongside the development of the heritage assessment for the site.’ (Para 5.20)

The proposed removal of the existing Whitgift Car Park exit ramps onto Poplar Walk ‘presents an opportunity to enhance the setting of the church.’ (Para 5.21)

‘Further discussion is required to ensure that any development proposed in this area has an appropriate relationship with this church. The latest proposal to have a roof terrace on the proposed adjacent building (which would provide an opportunity for a new view of the church) seems like a positive element of the scheme. Further work regarding the form of buildings in this area could create an improved relationship with the church.’ (Para 5.21)

Marks & Spencer

The proposed new building (part 5/7/9 stories)for Marks and Spencer ‘would be set back from the existing corner by 6 metres along North End, to allow an area of public realm to be created along Poplar Walk. The provision of public realm along Poplar Walk presents an opportunity to improve the pedestrian experience in this area, as well as open up new views of St Michaels and All Angels Church and is an improvement on the existing situation.’ The proposed new height needs a balance ‘to be achieved between the height of this element, the benefit of setting this building back and the fact that the building is located within the Central Croydon Conservation Area.’ ‘Further discussion is required to ensure that it does respect the Conservation Area and there is an appropriate relation to adjoining buildings on North End.’ (Para 5.22)

Car Parking

The approved car parking numbers were ‘in excess of the London Plan Parking Standards for the amount and type of floorspace consented.’ While the Planners welcome the proposed 3,140 limit further discussion is required on:

  • the impact of the bulk of the car parking
  • transportation impacts

*       the overall number and location of car parking spaces in the context of the bulk and massing at roof level and concerns over the extent of impact on local heritage assets. (Para 5.24)

Residential Uses

The proposed residential towers would be concentrated along Wellesley Road and on the site of the existing Marks and Spencer building:

  • either a 35 storey tower proposed as student accommodation or a hotel, with three other towers, with heights varying from 40-45 storeys, and a 12 storey infill.
  • or no student accommodation tower , increase in footplate of southernmost residential tower and heights of 40 to 45 storeys. (Para. 5.26)

The Planners are concerned about their impact on :

  • viewpoints from the Almshouses, and on St Michaels Church
  • how the heights of the towers relate to one another.’

They suggest that this ‘could be controlled through the use of design guidelines (as occurred in the approved scheme) or, if possible, that this is dealt with before the maximum Parameters are fixed.’ (pata 5.27)

Architecture

Specifics of architectural styles ‘are yet to be discussed’ especially in relation to the proximity of heritage assets, the Conservation Area and that the existing Marks and Spencer building. (Para 5.29)

‘As with the approved scheme, the intention is to produce a set of design guidelines for the planning application to guide architectural quality when reserved matters come forward. Discussions have not yet commenced on the design guidelines and officers are keen for these to commence soon. (Para 5.30)

Frontages

The Planners welcome the proposed frontage along the full length of Poplar Walk ‘as it presents an opportunity to improve the environment and create improved links with West Croydon.’ (Para 5.31)

‘The design guidelines will need to be crafted to ensure that the frontages of the development relate to the surrounding character and address the street appropriately, especially:

  • ‘important along Wellesley Road given the length of this frontage in the latest plans, and the need to accommodate within this length a complex mix of town centre pedestrian environment, residential entrances, retail frontages, public realm, and vehicular accesses.’
  • ‘the vehicular access points and ramps up to the car parking decks to ensure that they are appropriately designed in the context of both a completed scheme where the residential element is completed and also in a situation if/where the residential element comes forward as a later phase.’
  • ‘Appropriate meanwhile uses for the area of the site to be occupied by the residential uses will be required at an appropriate time should the residential element not come forward at the same time as the main commercial elements.’ (Para 5.32)

Townscape

5.34 There will need to be an Environmental Impact Assessment including of the visual impact. (Para 5.34)

Heritage Assets

In addition to the Almshouses, St Michaels and All Angels Church, Electric House and the Central Croydon Conservation Area, there will be potential impact:

  • on a number of Locally Listed buildings along North End and George Street. (Para 5.35)
  • on the existing Marks and Spencer building which is regarded as making ‘a positive contribution to the Conservation Area.’ (Para 36)

‘The developer will need to justify why’ the latter ‘needs to be demolished in the interests of the comprehensive redevelopment of the Whitgift Centre’. ‘Its replacement must be of sufficient quality alongside the strength of other material planning considerations to outweigh the statutory presumption against granting planning permission referred to below as the Council must pay special attention to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of the Conservation Area.’  (Para 5.37)

Whitgift Car Park

The Planners welcome the loss of this car park structure is ‘as it allows the opportunity for a more comprehensive redevelopment of this section of the site and a more positive relationship with Wellesley Road.’ (Para 5.38)

The Planners state that:

  • ‘A detailed heritage assessment is required to fully assess the impact of the proposals on adjacent heritage assets’, especially of the bulk and massing’. (Para 5.40)
  • A full assessment of the archaeological implications as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment. (Para 5.42)
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About seancreighton1947

Since moving to Norbury in July 2011 I have been active on local economy issues with Croydon TUC and Croydon Assembly, and am a member of the latter's Environment Forum. I am a member of the 5 Norbury Residents Associations Joint Planning Committee, and a Governor of Norbury Manor Primary School. I write for Croydon Citizen at http://thecroydoncitizen.com. I co-ordinate the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Croydon Radical History Networks and advise the North East People's History Project.. I give history talks and lead history walks. I retired in 2012 having worked in the community/voluntary sector and on heritage projects. My history interests include labour movement, mutuality, Black British, slavery & abolition, Edwardian roller skating and the social and political use of music and song. I have a particular interest in the histories of Battersea and Wandsworth, Croydon and Lambeth. I have a publishing imprint History & Social Action Publications.
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One Response to Westfield and Hammerson Are Dragging Their Feet – Part 2

  1. Pingback: Croydon Patrnership’s revised plans for Whitgift development… | CCC

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