Local developments

Tesco/Redrow Appeal Update - 13 January 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Updated 13 January 2021

The online public inquiry was concluded on Wednesday, 13th January. Members will probably be aware that Redrow launched an appeal against Merton’s decision to refuse planning permission for its proposed development in Tesco’s car park to build 456 flats in towers up to 15 storeys high. 

Our Association was a “Rule 6 Party” at the inquiry, which meant our team was present throughout and able to participate in the proceedings.The public inquiry was organised by the Planning Inspectorate and took place online, running for a total of 11 days, starting on 8 December 2020 and concluding on 13 January 2021, with a break over the Christmas and New Year holiday period. 

John Elvidge, our Chairman, took on the role as our advocate, putting his legal experience to good use, with Jerry Cuthbert looking after all the day-to-day administration and documentation that being a Rule 6 Party entails. Theywere ably supported by David Freeman who has a wealth of experience in planning matters. The Planning Inspector has yet to make her site visit, write her report and make her decision; so it’s still a case of “watch this space”. 

It’s been a very intense experience for those involved and has consumed large amounts of their time. Fortunately, as we’ve been through several periods of lockdown since the appeal started, our team has had the free time available! 

Throughout the planning process for this development, your Association has worked hard in representing the views of its members and giving its support to local residents, schools and businesses in our joint endeavours to achieve what is best for our community. 

During the inquiry we have reminded the Inspector that we’re not against new homes being built in Tesco’s car park but that any development should be architecturally integrated with the local townscape, contribute positively to the public realm and should include public facilities, such as a health centre, for example. Let us hope for a positive outcome from the inquiry and that the appeal is refused.

The sessions were live streamed on YouTube and recorded by the Planning Inspectorate.

All the inquiry documents are available on Merton's website at https://www.merton.gov.uk/planning-and-buildings/planning/planning-permission/burlington-road-public-inquiry

As our Association is a "Rule 6" party to the inquiry, you may read our Proof of Evidence here .

 

Daily Reports on the Inquiry (8 December 2020 - 13 January 2021)

On the first day (8 December 2020), we had the opening statements from representatives for Redrow and London Borough of Merton, with John Elvidge speaking for our Association.  Also Councillor Hina Bokhari, Steve Lister (Champion’s Chairman), Andrew Hogarth (Deputy-Head RPHS), Matt Wingrove (resident) and Nick West (resident) all spoke eloquently urging refusal.

On Day 2 (9 December 2020), we heard the highways evidence submitted by Merton’s expert witness. This centred around an assessment of the degree to which the site is served by public transport, the accessibility of Motspur Park Station, whether 220 car parking spaces would be adequate for 456 flats and the possibility of increased street parking in the vicinity.

Day 3 (10 December 2020). Today, we heard further from Redrow's expert witness on transport. Much of his evidence today concerned his methodology for predicting the likely level of car ownership within the proposed development. Our members are obviously concerned over the possibility of overspill car parking into the residential streets of West Barnes. If this did happen, the solution being mooted would be the imposition of a new CPZ on residents in West Barnes.

So there is the possibility that residents near to the Tesco site might have to bear all the costs and inconvenience of a CPZ in their streets, so that Redrow only have to provide 48% parking capacity per dwelling for the new residents.

Day 4 (11 December 2020). The first session was to allow third parties to raise any matters that might be added to the Planning Conditions. These Conditions are to be agreed in principle between Merton and LBM in advance, on the basis that, IF the appeal were to be granted, they would be already agreed.

After this, our chairman, John Elvidge, then cross-examined Redrow's expert transport witness about the evidence he gave the day before.

In the afternoon, we started the "Character and Appearance" debate, with LBM's expert witness presenting his evidence.

Later, the Inspector chaired the concluding discussion on Conditions and the S106 Agreement.

Day 5 (15 December 2020) Today, Merton's expert witness for urban design and townscape matters, explained the reasons behind the Planning Committee's reasons for refusal. He was then cross-examined by Redrow's counsel. Later in the day, Redrow's expert witness presented the reasons why Redrow is appealing against Merton's refusal on these matters.

The balance between the pros and cons of Redrow's proposed architectural and urban designs and their impact on Merton's townscape and the local area are likely to be a key issues in the Inspector making her decision. 

Day 6 (16 December). The day started with Redrow's expert witness being cross-examination by Merton's advocate. Despite Merton's policy paper that says that tall buildings are "Inappropriate" at this location, much of the debate centred around whether breaching this policy is justified in order to meet housing need. There were also questions raised over the quality of the architectural design, including the criticisms raised by Merton's Design Review Panel at the pre-application stage.

In the afternoon, the witness was further cross-examined by John Elvidge, particularly about why the Design Review Panel had not been asked to reconsider Redrow's revised design, after its first "Red" assessment.

Day 7 (17 December) started with Redrow's expert witness completing his evidence. This was followed by a round-table discussion on flooding and carbon footprint. Both these concerns had been specifically raised by the Association. The rest of the day was taken up with Merton's expert witness explaining how the council developed its housing policy and planning within the framework of national and London policies and guidance.

Day 8 (18 December). The debate over the planning of homes in the borough, continued with Redrow's expert witness. The question of how Merton's plans and targets mesh in with those set for it by the GLA was considered in detail. He reviewed the timings of when various GLA plans are revised, updated, approved and reissued and considered how and when Merton's own planning should be updated to incorporate the changes that GLA's revisions cause.

Day 9 (11 January 2021). The Inquiry recommenced, after the break over the holiday period, with a review of the evidence of Merton's plan for the delivery of new homes for the next 10 years or so. The GLA's target for Merton has been to deliver 411 new homes each year. However, this is expected to be raised to a new average of 918 new homes each year, as and when the new London Plan is formally issued in 2021. Currently this revised plan is expected to be approved by the government in the next few months. Accordingly, Merton will need to ramp up its delivery at some point. The day's arguments centred around the reviewing the future "pipeline" of forthcoming developments, in order to gauge the effectiveness of Merton's plans to continue to provide new homes in the borough to meet GLA targets. It seems that whether or not Merton is deemed to have a robust plan for the future provision of new homes is likely to be an important aspect in the outcome of this inquiry.

Day 10 (12 January 2021). The day commenced with a round table discussion on when and how Merton will develop a revised plan to increase the supply of new homes, to meet the new GLA targets when they are approved and finalised. Merton's revised plan will need to mesh in with the GLA's new targets. The legal positions on whether all these various plans may be considered as still valid or "out of date" seem to be contested matters. At the moment, the GLA targets are in transition, as the new targets are not yet official but nevertheless anticipated soon. This is all to be judged with reference to the guidance set out in the National Planning Policy Framework

Later, the expert witnesses on town planning matters for Redrow and Merton presented their evidence and were cross-examined by the parties' advocates, including John Elvidge representing our Association. The appearance, height and massing of the proposed development were reviewed, including the concerns expressed by local people.

Day 11 (13 January 2021) This was the last day of the inquiry, with the advocates presenting their final submissions:

  • John Elvidge, our Chairman for RPWBRA. His Closing Submission may be read here.
  • Annabel Graham Paul, representing the London Borough of Merton
  • Paul Tucker QC and Constanze Bell, representing Redrow (the Appellant)

The Planning Inspector has yet to make her site inspection and, of course, prepare her conclusions and decision.

We do not yet know when this will all be concluded.

 

Previously on 7 November ...

We have now been advised by the Planning Inspectorate that the public inquiry for Redrow’s appeal against refusal of its planning application (Original Ref: 19/P2387) to build 456 flats in tower blocks up to 15 storeys high in Tesco’s car park at 265 Burlington Road will be a “virtual” inquiry to be held on-line. It is planned to start on, Tuesday, 8 December 2020 and take between 4 and 6 working days. 

If you were one of the 500+ people and organisations that made written representations to Merton Council at the time of the original planning application, which was refused by Merton’s Planning Committee, back in February 2020, then your representations will have already copied by Merton and issued to the Inspector, who be making the final decision for the appeal inquiry. 

As our Association is a "Rule 6" party to the inquiry our Proof of Evidence is here .

 

Previous Articles about this site and the proposed development:

265 Burlington Rd - Date Set for Public Inquiry Sept 20

20/P1253 - 265 Burlington Road

19/P2387 - 265 Burlington Road April 2020

Tesco Site - 265 Burlington Road April 2020

Tesco Site Development - Public Meeting

 

 

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