Connaught Mews
News - Woolwich Love Lane Development


News - Woolwich Love Lane - Planning Permission Response

The following letter was drawn up in response to the planning permission request sent by the council on the 18th July 2006. It was sent by Connaught Mews SE18 Management Co Ltd on behalf of all the residents at the Mews.

Your reference 06/1751/O /2
Date 10-Aug-06

Dear Sir/Madam,

We write further to your letter to residents dated 18th July 2006 regarding the proposed "Love Lane Development".

1. INTRODUCTION

Connaught Mews is situated in over an acre of land just outside the heart of Woolwich, immediately adjacent to the planned development. There will be a significant and potentially undesirable impact should the proposed planning application be agreed.

The Mews consists of three Grade II listed buildings and shares the rich historical background of the area. It was previously a military hospital with links dating back to Queen Victoria and Florence Nightingale.

Connaught Mews SE18 Management Company Ltd (CMSE18MCL) was originally formed in 1996 by the residents who had purchased the freehold. CMSE18MCL operates as a commonhold style limited Management Company. It is a not-for-profit organisation run for the benefit of the residents by directors who are themselves residents and work on a voluntary and unpaid basis.

CMSE18MCL has canvassed resident's opinions both formally and informally with regard to the proposed development. At times it has been difficult to obtain views, as often we have been given very little notice of consultation events. Additionally some properties are owned by landlords who are not resident on the Mews.

At the end of July, we gained agreement to an on-site meeting, with representatives from both the developers and the Council attending. This took place on 3rd August 2006. Despite the fact that we were only able to give three days notice to residents of this meeting, there was a notable response. Twelve people attended the meeting and a further twelve submitted a formal written response. As many again verbally relayed their views to CMSE18MCL directors. This gave us input from approximately 50% of the properties i.e. a significant proportion. We trust that this gives a sense of how important this is to us all and how strongly we feel about this development.

In all there are 61 properties within Connaught Mews, with significantly more residents. We write today as first directors on behalf of all the residents and the following comments represent the majority view of both the residents of the Mews and CMSE18MCL.

2. GENERAL COMMENTS

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2.1 Generally the residents are very much in favour of investment in Woolwich, but not at the cost of it becoming an unpleasant place in which to live. Many express the view that the Love Lane area is in need of development, but not in such a way as to adversely affect the surrounding areas, which includes Connaught Mews

2.2 There has been confusion over the dates by which comments on the planning submission need to be made. The letter sent to residents states comments must be submitted within 21 days from the 18th July, however the notices in the streets say 21 days from the 26th July. We raised this with both the developers and Council officers and have now been reassured that comments will be accepted up to 15th August. However others will be unaware of this later date and would have welcomed more time to reflect on these significant proposals and taken longer over our response

Expected Outcome

  • The Council to note that we support the development of Woolwich
  • The Council to note the confused deadlines

3. THE HEIGHT, SIZE AND DENSITY OF THE DEVELOPMENT

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3.1 Most residents of the Mews are opposed to such a large and dense development - particularly in light of all the other developments in the area

3.2 Many query the need for such a large supermarket and are greatly concerned about the effect of this on small local businesses, that will inevitably lose trade and potentially be forced to close

3.3 By far the biggest concern was the height of the development, particularly at the end nearest to Connaught Mews. One resident described this as "an intense invasion of privacy". Some residents are now less concerned since the plans have been revised to lower the height to 16 floors and to move the block further away from the Mews. However, some serious scepticism remains about the adherence to the 16 floor height limit, as other reassurances we have been given have been overturned

3.4 Many residents remain unhappy about the excessive height of the main tower block which will dominate the area

Expected Outcome

  • Reconsideration for the need for such a high and dense development
  • Formal commitment not to revert to a high-rise development

4. TRAFFIC VOLUMES - NOISE, CONGESTION AND POLLUTION

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4.1 The residents of Connaught Mews welcome the proposals to improve the control of traffic by introducing traffic lights at the accident black spot at the top of Grand Depot Road

4.2 However we remain very concerned about the funnelling of all new residential and shopping traffic down Grand Depot Road. The developers and Council officers have seemed;

  • surprised that Connaught Mews residents would be concerned by this
  • unaware just how close this road runs along the side to the Mews
  • unaware that the current levels of traffic, noise and pollution are already a concern to residents
  • unaware of the extent of pedestrian use along Grand Depot Road by the residents

4.3 Although we have raised concerns and objections to this proposal, few of them seem to have been taken into consideration and our requests to look at alternatives appear to have been largely ignored. For example, we have had no formal response to our suggestion at the December 05 consultation event that the entrance and exit to the site be made at opposite sides of the development to reduce the impact on Grand Depot Road

4.4 At the same consultation event we asked for details of the traffic analysis and were told these would be made available, but this has not been forthcoming. In the absence of any shared detail, we remain concerned that there will be major congestion in, and around the development

4.5 The level of noise and pollution for properties adjacent to the South Circular Road has now been recognised as a serious problem. This problem was considered serious enough by the developers to include a raised embankment to shelter the new residential properties, but no similar consideration or remedy has been proposed for the residents of Connaught Mews

4.6 Residents are already concerned about the current levels of pollution in Woolwich and in particular close to the busy A205 South Circular Road. The EU stipulates that daily levels of PM10 should not exceed 50 µg m-3. However, the graph below for Plumstead High Street, shows that the PM10 levels regularly exceeds that limit

Local air quality graph
Source: www.londonair.org.uk

4.7 The new development will inevitable increase the levels of traffic and the associated pollution. We want to see the environmental report and health impact assessments for pollutants, including Ozone, PM10 and N0x for the surrounding area. In particular we would like to see the projected increases, both during the construction when heavily polluting vehicles will be accessing the site and after completion of the development

4.8 We will be seeking the views of the Mayor of London, as we are aware he has been given responsibility for reducing the PM10 and N0x levels and he has been given extra powers to deal with planning and development across London Boroughs

4.9 To help address the impact of the problems of noise and pollution, the residents of Connaught Mews request that the Council approve and the developers fund the raising of the Mews boundary wall at the top of Grand Depot Road

4.10 Many residents are concerned about pedestrian access along Grand Depot Road and would like firm assurances that the promised 3m wide pavements and with grass and trees will be put in place on both sides of the road

4.11 The residents are very concerned about deliveries to the supermarket and shops and want a condition of the planning approval to be a restriction on deliveries to between the hours of 9am to 5pm

4.12 Residents are outraged that they will now have restricted access to Connaught Mews. We had been given every reassurance at the consultation stage that residents would still be allowed to drive down Grand Depot Road and turn right up Woolwich New Road to access the Mews. This reassurance now seems to have been worthless. Several residents who have lived here for a number of years could not even work out an alternative road route to reach the Mews. This will severely restrict access for residents, visitors, deliveries and essential services for the Mews. The residents feel most strongly about this unexplained change. This is utterly unacceptable to residents, who now seek information and explanation for this complete u-turn that we understand was not the developers proposed, nor their preferred option

Expected Outcome

  • Consideration to be given to having separate entrance and exit points for the developmento Traffic analysis to be provided
  • Environmental and health impact assessments for pollutants, including Ozone, PM10 and NOx to be provided
  • Approval and funding for the raising of the Connaught Mews boundary wall
  • Assurances that 3m pavements with grass and tree verges will be put on Grand Depot Road on both sides of the road
  • A condition of planning approval to restrict deliveries to the development to between the hours of 9am and 5pm
  • The Council to provide an explanation for changing residents access rights to drive down Grand Depot Road and turn right back up Woolwich New Road
  • Reinstatement of the right for residents to drive down Grand Depot Road and turn right back up Woolwich New Road

5. THE PROPOSED CONSTRUCTION UNTIL 2013

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5.1 Residents are very concerned about the noise, congestion, vibration, disruption and pollution during this massive development over a very long time frame. We now understand that construction is unlikely to be completed before 2013 at the earliest

5.2 The residents want reassurance that the road improvements will be done before construction work commences

5.3 The residents want reassurance that construction traffic will not be given access to the site near to the Mews

5.4 The residents want reassurance that the construction work will only be undertaken by developers who have committed to a "considerate contractor scheme"

5.5 The residents want a condition placed on the planning approval that construction work will only take place between the hours of 9am and 5pm

5.6 The residents would like the construction developers to minimise the noise and disruption during the day in consideration to the residents who;

  • are shift workers,
  • work from home,
  • have young families,
  • are elderly or retired

5.7 The residents would like a clear and public plan and time line for the development

5.8 The residents would like a clear and simple process for the management and escalation of resident's problems and concerns regarding the development during the construction work

Expected Outcome

  • Road improvements to be completed before commencement of work on the development site
  • Construction site access to be sited away from the Mews
  • Development work to be limited to developers and subcontractors who sign up to a "considerate contractor scheme"
  • Condition on planning approval to limit construction work to between the hours of 9am to 5pm
  • Development work to be limited to developers and subcontractors who commit to minimising noise and disruption during the day
  • Publication of a development plan and time line
  • Simple process for the management and escalation of problems and concerns during the construction work

6. THE CONSULTATION AND COMMUNICATION PROCESS

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6.1 The majority feel that the consultation process has been unstructured, poorly promoted and has confused the public

6.2 As far as we are aware no timetable of events or deadlines has ever been publicised and the process remains unclear

6.3 We were told at the December consultation event that there would be a further consultation prior to the submission of the planning application. However this clearly has not happened and at the last event an official stressed that it was a public exhibition and not further consultation

6.4 Unlike other recent examples of public consultation on major planning applications, this exercise has lacked structure and clarity;

  • no formal notes were taken during the events
  • no minutes were distributed after the events
  • no feedback on the views expressed was given until after the planning submission had been made
  • no coherent process underpinned by a published schedule of activity
  • it is unclear how the final decisions will be taken
For a development on this scale, we would expect a certain type and standard of procedure to be followed, of which there are many examples and precedents such as those provided by The Better Regulation Task Force

6.5 The developers and Council officials have said that they feel that they have made extensive attempts to consult, but residents here have said that they;

  • are concerned about the lack of information about the development
  • were unaware of the consultation events and exhibitions
  • were unaware of how to make their views heard
  • were not contacted directly regarding the development before the planning application letter from the Council

6.6 The Love Lane Development web site has given little information and was not updated until this was highlighted at the last public event. Even today the site cannot be easily located using a common internet search engine such as "Google" (the first suggestion returned by Google for "Love Lane Development" is in fact the Connaught Mews web page)

6.7 At the last consultation event we repeatedly raised the issue of raising the profile of the consultation and we were assured that different ways would be investigated. We were further assured that everyone who had registered an interest via the Love Lane Development site would be contacted by email. To date, nothing has happened

Expected Outcome

  • The Council to note the poor quality of the consultation in comparison to other schemes
  • The Council to commit to learning lessons from this consultation
  • The Council to apply lessons learnt to the remainder of this development and future consultations

7. OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

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7.1 Some residents, especially those with young families and the elderly, have concerns about safety. Some anxiety has been expressed about the large influx of people to the area from the development

7.2 A lot of residents are concerned that the property values will stagnate, or even decline during the seven years of development work. While this may not prove to be too great a problem in the long run, it will affect those who wish to sell in the short or medium term. There is already some anecdotal evidence that sale of properties in the Mews is being affected by the proposal (some properties that have sold quickly in the past have recently been slow to sell)

7.3 Some landlords are also concerned about being able to let property, or maintain a respectable level of rent, during the development construction work

7.4 Some residents have concerns about parking. They are not convinced that adequate provision has been made in the development for car parking spaces for shoppers and the new residents, who will seek to park in the immediate locality. We have already had problems with non-residents "tail gating" resident's cars through the gate and then becoming trapped within the Mews. Further parking controls and parking enforcement in the Mew's car parks will be a direct cost to residents

7.5 The residents are also very concerned about other development works around the Mews. We have recently become aware of a demolition/improvement order for the estate on the other side of the Mews on Woolwich New Road. However, we have no idea what is proposed for this development area, nor are we aware of the time line. Residents are very concerned that the Mews will become "trapped" in between two massive construction sites for many years. Others are complete unaware of these additional works. All of the surrounding planning applications and development proposals need to be considered collectively and publicly, to determine the combined impact and degradation in the quality of life for the residents of the Mews

Expected Outcome

  • The Council to note the personal impact of this development on the residents of the Mews
  • The Council to provide information on other developments around the vicinity of the Mews
  • The Council to publish a report on the combined short, medium and long term impacts and degradation in the quality of life for the residents of the Mews

8. CONCLUSION

8.1 In summary we are in favour of the development of Woolwich, but still have some very serious reservations about the proposed planning application

8.2 This is a massive development work that will significantly impact the residents of the Mews for at least the next seven years

8.3 To date we have had no written responses to our input to the consultation and now seek a formal response to each of the points in this letter

8.4 As this letter represents objections from multiple households we expect this planning decision to go before a Council Committee and would welcome the opportunity to speak at that meeting. We would also expect to be given an agenda and sufficient notice in advance of the date of Committee meeting to prepare our case

Expected Outcome

  • Formal response to each point in this letter
  • Planning decision to go before a Council Committee
  • CMSE18MCL representatives be given the opportunity to speak at that Committee
  • Planning permission not to be granted until our points have been satisfactorily addressed

Signed on behalf of Connaught Mews SE18 Management Company Ltd

cc. Mayor of London Ken Livingstone,
Greenwich Councillors; Chris Roberts, Beverley Jones, Rajwant Sidhu, and Harry Singh


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Site last updated : 16th Feb 2014.
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Registered office: 20 Lantern House, Connaught Mews, Woolwich, London SE18 6SU. Registered in England. Number : 3408173.

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