Residents have lost their battle to stop the construction of a 14-storey tower

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South London residents have lost their battle to stop the construction of a 14-storey tower after a council approved the plans despite 1,000 people objecting to them. Lambeth councillors waved through the proposals to build 237 homes in five blocks on the site of a Homebase store in Streatham on Tuesday evening (March 19).

More than  1,000 residents had signed a petition demanding the height and density of the planned development on Woodgate Drive be reduced. They had raised concerns about the pressure extra residents would put on local services and the impact of noise pollution from a nearby railway line on their new neighbours.

Existing residents had also criticised the design of the development, including the placement of some kids’ play areas on the roofs of buildings and the number of single-aspect flats (where windows are only on one side of a property).

But a majority of councillors ultimately agreed with planners about the benefits of the development and waved it through. Labour councillors Joanne Simpson, Malcolm Clarke, Joe Dharampal Hornby and David Bridson voted in favour of the plans. Cllr Martin Bailey, Labour member for Vauxhall, and Cllr Scott Ainslie, Green member for Streatham St Leonard’s voted against them.

Speaking after the meeting, campaigners expressed dismay at the councillors’ approval of the controversial plans. Emily Smith, chair of Woodgate Tower Protest Group, said: “Giving the go-ahead to something like this is completely unforgivable. [It] should have been blown out of the water [from] day one.

“Unfortunately I fear it will set a precedent and be one of many in the area over the next decade. We don’t have to look very far into the past to see the architectural failings of these types of buildings.”

A council report had warned that the lack of on-street permit parking in the area meant the new flats would cause a ‘very high level of local parking stress.’ But speaking at the planning meeting, a council officer said proposals to introduce a controlled parking zone nearby were in progress and would likely deter car owners from moving into the development.

Council planners also said that increasing the number of dual-aspect homes (where windows are on both sides of a property) in the development would have reduced the number of homes. Officers added that they were prioritising ‘maximising housing delivery’ in the borough by bringing forward the plans.

During the meeting, Cllr Ainslie asked officials to explain why they were recommending proposals for a 14-storey tower block in an area which wasn’t earmarked by the council for tall buildings.

In response, a council planner explained: “The area has not been identified as inappropriate. It just has not been identified as appropriate.”

He went on to explain that the council allowed high developments to come forward in locations not earmarked for tall buildings, as long as they met other rules.

A council report recommending the plans for approval praised the proposed development for creating hundreds of new homes and for regenerating the surrounding area through planned improvements to roads and public spaces.

The report added: “The development would have no unacceptable impacts on surrounding properties or the local environment, with new landscaping opportunities and biodiversity improvements, and it would have excellent sustainability credentials.

“In officers’ assessment, the application complies with the development plan when looked at overall. No material considerations have been identified that weigh against the proposal. Officers are therefore recommending that the application is approved subject to conditions and a section 106 legal agreement.”


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