Carnegie Planning Application

Planning application passed

Despite strong representations from our planning expert David Taylor, Jeff Doorn on behalf of the Friends of Carnegie Library and local resident Sara Bredemear, Lambeth’s Planning Committee voted by 6-1 in favour of GLL’s application.

The meeting was held at Bolney Meadow Community Centre (literally miles away from Herne Hill), on Tue 7 February 2017. Over 80 members of the public attended. Chair Cllr Clair Wilcox explained that it was “a meeting in public rather than a public meeting”; therefore only the three persons named above were permitted to speak, and for just two minutes each. There was a strong security presence.

For the record, here is the text of David’s objection

The Society has objected as the quality and scope of both the planning and heritage statements are inadequate. The NPPF requires that such applications should be prepared appropriate expertise. There is no evidence of such expertise.

This application has to be judged against planning policy: we feel it breaches policy Q20 which refers to a development not diminishing its ability to remain viable in the long term and although Section 4.3.2 states that the viability of the organisation is not a planning issue, it is the viability of the use that we are questioning. There is no evidence given that a gym is viable. The NPPF refers several times to viable uses and your own local plan refers to viability as a key planning issue in policy Q20. So viability is absolutely a planning issue and the committee must take that into account.

The report states twice that no harm will be done to the building. We disagree and indeed paragraph 6.2 10 states that the positioning of the plant room will minimise the harm: so the officer does recognise that harm WILL be done.

There are also concerns about the adverse impact on the garden area, the residential environment and the poor internal arrangements. The design of the entrance extension is poor and contrary to policies Q11a and Q20 which refer to the quality of extensions.

There is some demolition involved and in such cases the Victorian Society is a statutory consultee.

Chair, the Society has serious concerns about the quality of the application: it does not comply with your own polices and those of the NPPF and that the report is selective in only referring to those parts of polices which support the application. We consider it is incomplete and misleading.

The Society would ask that the application be refused or at the very least deferred and suggests that the applicant consider appointing consultants with expertise in listed buildings.

Our objection, as submitted to the Lambeth Planning website on 6 December 2016

16/06270/FUL and 16/06271/LB Carnegie Library scheme

The Herne Hill Society, through its Planning Group, OBJECTS to both applications.

1. The Carnegie Library is a much-loved Grade II listed building, one of Herne Hill’s few outstanding buildings. As acknowledged in Lambeth’s SPD 2015, para 1.8, Lambeth are under a “legal duty to pay special regard to protect the special interest of listed buildings.” And under Local Plan (LP), Policy Q18, para 10.69–70 “Lambeth will use its planning powers (including enforcement powers) to ensure that special regard is paid to sustaining and enhancing the historic environment … The historic environment is an irreplaceable resource which contributes significantly to Lambeth’s local distinctiveness, economy and quality of life.” These applications should be refused since they fail to satisfy Lambeth’s own fundamental criteria, as set out in more detail below.

2. LP, Q20 para 10.82: “The council will support only the minimum amount of alteration necessary to secure the optimum viable use of a listed building”. There are several other gyms readily accessible in the area. The applications fail to provide any proper evidence of local need or support for a gym and no market assessments or financial forecasts are given. It cannot be shown that an “optimum viable use” would be secured in these circumstances.

3. Q20 also requires that development affecting a listed building should not “diminish its ability to remain viable in use in the long term”. A basement gym whose own viability is, at best, very uncertain will diminish the ability of the building to “remain viable in use in the long term”.

4. LP, ED11(b) provides that: “Change of use or loss of existing visitor attractions, leisure, arts and culture uses will not be supported. Redevelopment for mixed use will only be supported where the existing use is re-provided on site, or a replacement facility is provided elsewhere in the locality.” Under the proposals the larger part of what used to be library space becomes “flexible community space”. Just how much library space will remain is far from clear. Library space, as it has existed to date, is not being “re-provided on site”, neither is any replacement facility being provided “in the locality”.

5. The provision of two entrances makes sense if the two parts of the building function largely independently. However, it seems the intention is that the building should function as one to save on doubling up staffing, in which case there should be a single reception convenient to both community space/library and gym use. The current scheme is confused in this respect.

6. The garden of the Carnegie is a particularly valuable asset.

(i) Backland development can erode amenity value and biodiversity, and is therefore discouraged under LP, Q14. If it is to be supported not less than 70% of the garden land should be retained –Q14c (i). The building of two plant rooms on the garden land does not satisfy this criterion.

(ii) Q6 (v) encourages “enhanced open space (including gaps between buildings) and landscaping/trees”. The proposal goes directly against this by building over garden land and removing three mature trees in the process.

(iii) It also goes against Q6 (ix) since building over the garden land does not “retain and enhance the heritage value of existing spaces, in terms of the spatial form, function, connection and relationship with surrounding buildings.”

(iv) The removal of three trees is inconsistent with Q10.

(v) The two plant rooms are not unobtrusive, especially in terms of enjoyment of the secluded garden, contrary to SPD 2.28.

It is noted that the application does not include any proposal to make up for the loss of garden land by removing the Council-owned garages (accessed from Haredale Road) and restoring garden land on that site.

7. The proposal to break through an opening into the stairwell will damage attractive original decorative tilework. This has been successfully refused in the past. It should be refused again.

8. The proposed height of the basement is 3m (less after finishes). This height does not meet the guidance for many activities. See Sport England Fitness and Exercise Spaces, Design Guidance Note, esp. paras 4.2 and pp.25-28.

Today’s gym users, especially when paying a fee, expect a wide a variety of activities. This limitation will affect the viability of the proposed gym – see points 2. and 3 above.

9. Since the basement height will not allow many activities there will be pressure to allow these to take place on the ground floor. They would be very likely to prevent or interfere with other community activities. If the gym is to be a hindrance to other community uses, change of use to a gym is an inappropriate option.

10. Excavation of the basement offers the opportunity to enhance the relationship between the building and its garden. The failure to provide any natural light to the basement or direct access to the garden is a serious flaw in the design. So too the failure to improve the access from ground floor to garden.

11. The structure providing a new entrance on Ferndene Road is poorly suited to this heritage building. The architectural idiom is both tired and obvious. The Design & Access statement is very inadequate in this respect. There is no evidence of the ability of the consultancy used for the scheme to deliver a structure of appropriate quality.

12. Traffic: no consideration has been given to increased traffic and parking issues in this quiet residential location. A gym operating during the long hours that are proposed would have a seriously deleterious effect.

The Society would fully support a well-devised scheme ensuring the long-term future of the Carnegie, but this scheme is not it.

Submitted to the Lambeth Planning website on 6 December 2016

Reader Comments

Posted by Mike Colvin December 07, 2016

That report pretty much says it all. Like Herne Hill Society I would gladly support a scheme that ensured the long-term future of Carnegie but this is most certainly not it.

Posted by Kim Lewis December 10, 2016

I agree with all of the points raised. I’ve posted my own objections on the Lambeth Planning website.

Posted by Annie Gelly December 11, 2016

To lay out a set of plans for the public to view and subsequently to change them without warning or consultation is an outrage. In fact it is downright obnoxious and totally unacceptable. I believe that the local community was perhaps beginning to see that there could be a way of tolerating the presence of a gym if it adhered to the guidlelines as set out in the earlier plan, but now it seems they want to extend the building over the garden, thus destroying mature trees and the garden itself. Quite frankly this is ‘taking the p—s’. This crackpot scheme must be stopped in its tracks NOW!

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