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Development on Swan Street/Harper Road

Latest news: August 2015

On Monday 20 July, following consultations with Southwark Council planners, the architects held a final consultation meeting, presenting designs which were significantly amended from the previous versions. To download the display boards from that meeting, click here.

The latest scheme has made substantial steps forward and is of a much higher quality, more appropriate to the context, and better resolved. The number of residential units has been cut from 82 to 64. The "tower block" at the corner of Swan Street and Harper Road is now only five storeys with a 6th and 7th storey considerably set back. The use of the ground floor still needs more thought as there isn't a clear idea about how this might work. The fact that the Swan Street facade now reads as three separate buildings will add to variety and interest: the northern most block is designed to echo the court building and may retain the pillars and bronze lights at the entrance and the railings.

The one area where the latest plans are a disappointment is refuse storage. The latest proposal envisages a bin store accessible by the four flats in 16-18 Trinity Street. We would like to see some space in Trio Place used as a refuse and recycling site for domestic and office refuse from 2-14 Trinity Street to improve the appearance of the west end of Trinity Street. Graham Haworth (from the architects, Haworth Tompkins) has told us subsequently that he is "looking at what we can do with the refuse collection issue".

March 2015

On 19 March, Haworth Tompkins, the architects, arranged the last of four community meetings to brief residents on the final plans after feedback from Planning Officers and the Southwark Design Review Panel. We are very pleased that TNRA's two substantive concerns have been addressed. The height of the tower on the corner of Swan Street and Harper Road has been reduced from a possible nine storeys to seven and the tower block now includes provisions for significant community/event space on the ground floor and basement. We are also pleased that the developers and our councillors are supporting TNRA's proposal that Section 106 money from the development should be used to enhance the appearance of the Trinity Church Square conservation area. See below for TNRA's response to the architects following that meeting. Click here to download the display boards shown at the meeting.

February 2015

The architects say (17 February): 'Thank you to all that were able to attend the first 3 events to share views and concerns. The design team are currently working through all the feedback and will table the next stage of design at the Henry Wood Hall mid-March. This replaces the scheduled February event. Confirmation of the day and time will be sent out nearer the time.'

January 2015

The architects showed updated designs to residents at a meeting on 21 January 2015. Click here and here to download 6 pages showing the boards displayed at this meeting.

Please respond to the proposals, whether or not you were able to go to the meeting. Items of concern to TNRA are: height of the proposed block on the Harper Road/Swan Street corner; no community or commercial space within the development; use of community infrastructure levy money within the immediate area. See below for our responses to the proposals following the consultation meetings.

The series of consultation meetings about the scheme as announced by the architects:

Event 1 Thursday 9th October - 5.30 - 8.30pm - The Henry Wood Hall

This event is an opportunity for you to see our initial ideas about the scheme, understand the likely timescales, and give us your views. We will present our site analysis and some initial concepts, but there will not be any design work to show at this stage.

Event 2 Wednesday 19th November - 5.30 - 8.30pm - The Henry Wood Hall

Following the initial consultation meeting on 9th October, we will develop initial design concepts which will be presented at a 2nd consultation meeting in late November. This will be an opportunity for you to comment on more specific issues relating to design, scale, mass and unit mix. Again, the findings shall be taken into consideration to inform design changes.

Event 3 Wednesday 21st January - 5.30 - 8.30pm - The Henry Wood Hall

We will then present updated designs, following feedback from the November consultation meeting.

Click here and here to download 6 pages showing the boards displayed at this meeting.

Event 4 Thursday 19 March - 6.30 - 8.30pm - The Henry Wood Hall

A final meeting to share any feedback from Planning Officers and the Southwark Design Review Panel with local residents. We will demonstrate how community engagement, guidance from Southwark and the DRP advice have informed the design. Residents will also be informed about the Planning Application process.

Haworth Tompkins Architects (download their original 2-page document here)

Background

TNRA was told in 2013 about Trinity House’s plans to develop the site of the self storage building and crown court annexe on the corner of Swan Street and Harper Road. However, no details were available while the project was in "pre-application,” when developers talk confidentially to Council officers to get advice on whether their ideas meet planning policies.

On 9 September 2014, it was announced that the site is to be redeveloped as housing under a scheme led by Trinity House working with Galliard Homes, Acorn Property Group and Otterlo London. The site will be a mix of apartments and mews houses designed by architects Haworth Tompkins. The consortium hopes to complete the redevelopment scheme by 2017. See www.london-se1.co.uk/news/view/7830

Stephen Conway, chief executive of Galliard Homes, has said: "This is a rare and exciting opportunity to bring forward an exemplar residential development on this historic estate. Trinity Village is a hidden oasis with distinctive architecture surrounded by urban bustle. I look forward to demonstrating the consortium’s mix of experience and skill in mastering complex urban situations and placemaking.” See further here.

The site is located at the edge of but just outside the Trinity Church Square Conservation Area. Any development is likely to have a particular impact on residents of 29–31 Swan Street, Gloucester Court and 18 Trinity Street.

TNRA has asked for a meeting with our councillors to discuss the proposals and for a preliminary briefing by Trinity House/the developers. There will be opportunities for residents to met the developers and comment as part of the formal planning application process. We will keep residents up-dated on progress.

TNRA's preliminary comments sent to Haworth Tompkins by TNRA chair Edward Heckels on 15 October 2014 after the first consultation meeting

Many thanks to Haworth Tompkins for organising the community meeting on 9 October on the development of the self storage building and Court annexe on the corner of Swan Street and Harper Road. We are grateful that the architect and the developers gave residents such an early opportunity to discuss initial concepts for the site.

I thought it might helpful to share with you our preliminary thoughts, reflecting comments TNRA has received from residents who attended last week.

Architectural style & design

We understand that the architects are not keen on a design that is "Georgian pastiche" and are inclined towards something "modern” and "of its time”. We would be cautiously supportive of a development that is contemporary, but not aggressively so, and sympathetic to the conservation area just beyond the boarder of the development. The plans for Trio Place, in particular, should reflect that it is off Trinity Street, with its late Georgian/early Victorian architecture, which is the main access road into the TCS conservation area. We would ask for high quality design and unit layout: dual aspect units where possible; compliance with the Mayor's Housing Design Guide, Lifetime Homes standards, Code for Sustainable Homes etc.

Trio Place

TNRA would welcome the redevelopment of Trio Place as a mews, possibly extended further south than at present. We would not, however, want the entrance to the mews to be gated. You should note that the entrance to Trio Place is used to dump rubbish and as a location for wheelie bins for residents in Trinity Street. We would suggest that refuse storage facilities are provided on the mews site for selected residents in Trinity Street in order to maintain the appearance of the entrance of the mews. We also suggest that the developers speak to the police about their current access arrangements into Trio Place.

Swan Street frontage

We understand that the developers are considering a frontage involving multiple doorways and windows facing onto the street. The suggestion that all main entrances to houses, ground floor flats and communal entrance lobbies (barring Trio Place mews) should be visible from the public realm and focused along Swan Street is excellent news and will help with 24/7 animation, safety and footfall. We would like to see the entrance to the Court annexe retained, but if this is not possible given the proposal for the Swan Street frontage, we would hope the developers could salvage and incorporate some of the features in the new building, bringing the old and contemporary together in some way. TNRA representatives would appreciate an opportunity to look around the interior of the Court annexe with the developers.

Height of the development

We understand that the developers are planning a tower block on the corner of Swan Street/Harper Road which will be "substantially higher” than the proposed buildings on the rest of Swan Street and the current buildings in TCS and Trinity Street. We would oppose a development on the corner of Swan Street/Harper Road of sufficient height to be visible above the current skyline of the TCS conservation area. Such a structure will dominate the neighbourhood, feel oppressive and take away some of the charm and reasons why people enjoying living here. We would also oppose building at the north end of the development of sufficient height to block out the light currently going into the back of flats in 16-20 Trinity Street.

Section 106/Community Infrastructure Levy money

We understand you are looking for input from the community on how Section 106/Community Infrastructure Levy money could be spent locally. We would regard significant investment in the "dog park” at the south end of Swan Street as unnecessary. The area serves its purpose well at present – dog owners stand at the gate, release their dogs from the lead and allow them to roam. The main requirement is for an open expanse of grass. Park "furniture” is of limited value and the space will never be used as a family area given that dogs are off the lead and there is the inevitable problem of dog excrement. We support the continued use of this space as a "dog park” given that Trinity House is now enforcing its ban on dogs in the TCS and Merrick Square gardens and the Council has considered banning dogs in Newington Gardens. We would want Section 106/Community Infrastructure Levy money to be invested in Trinity Village (the "dog park” is not in Trinity Village) addressing deficiencies in the TCS conservation area set out in the appraisal produced by Southwark Council (see attached). In particular, we would argue for the funding to be spent replacing poor quality pavements in TCS with York stone. Starting with the pavement along the north side of TCS – which will represent a logical continuation of the new York stone pavement to be laid in Globe Street up to the corner of TCS under the Quietway scheme. Thereafter, we would look to complete the York stone pavement around the TCS garden itself. There is York stone on the west and east side. The poor quality paving on the north and south sides should be replaced with York stone so that York stone runs around the whole garden.

Ground floor on Swan Street/Harper Road corner

We understand that ground floor may be developed as shop frontage as, according to an architect we spoke to at the community meeting, no one would want to live on the ground floor on Harper Road. Another option we would encourage the architect to consider is using this area to provide affordable work/enterprise space. There are various things the architect should do to ensure this is successful/the right approach, including gaining a better understanding of the local market for non-residential space, and using specialist providers that provide workspace as their core activity - to ensure that such space is not simply provided as a secondary residual element of a residential scheme.

Housing mix

We understand that 85-90 dwelling places are planned of which 35% will be affordable housing. We would want the affordable housing to be of the same quality as the private buildings and with equal access rights to communal facilities (eg rubbish storage). We look forward to more details on the expected total number of occupants in the development.

Community space

We would be interested to learn the architect’s plans for the provision of community space in the development. We would like to work with the developers on a plan for community space, available for use by local residents, primarily to ensure that it does not sit empty during the day and would be well used.

Parking/traffic arrangements

We understand that there will be no allocated parking for the development with the exception of disabled residents. Swan Street is currently one way between the old pub and the entrance to the Court annexe. Then two way from the entrance to the Court annexe to Harper Road. Please confirm if you will be looking for any changes to the current traffic arrangements.

Green features

We would hope to see the plans for the development include "green” initiatives (eg bee keeping on the roof or a living wall). We would be interested to know if the developers have any intentions in this regard.

Arrangements for construction

The hours of work during the construction of the development must be sensitive to the wishes of local residents. Please confirm the planned hours of working during the week and if working at weekends is planned and the proposed hours for this.

Co-ordination with adjoining site

We understand that the former Council offices at 23 Harper Road have been or will shortly be sold for residential development. Ideally, there would be co-ordination between the developers of the two sites. However, we appreciate that this may be difficult if the two developments are moving to different timetables.

We look forward to seeing, and commenting on, your sketch designs for the scheme at the next meeting.

TNRA's comments sent to Haworth Tompkins by TNRA chair Edward Heckels on 24 November 2014 after the second consultation meeting

I would like to thank Haworth Tompkins for organising the community meeting on 19 November on the development of the self storage building and Court annexe on the corner of Swan Street and Harper Road. We are grateful that the architect and the developers gave residents such an opportunity to discuss their latest concepts for the site.

I thought it might helpful to share with you comments TNRA has received from residents who attended the event which update or add to the feedback received after the meeting on 9 October (see my email of 15 October below).

First of all, I should record residents’ appreciation that you have taken on board many of the points raised after the October meeting. In particular:

(i) Relation with 16-20 Trinity Street. We welcome proposals to cut back the building outline at the north of the development so that the flats at 16-20 Trinity Street are less over-looked and receive more light.

(ii) Building materials. We understand that the development may utilise bricks of a size and colour such that they blend with the exteriors of the buildings along Trinity Street and Trinity Church Square ("TCS”). Local residents will be supportive of a development that is contemporary while, in this fashion, being sympathetic to the conservation area just beyond the boarder of the development.

(iii) Green features. We note the proposal for a communal garden with selected access, a roof top garden and bee keeping facilities at the north of the development and private gardens for the Trio Place mews houses.

(iv) Swan Street Court House. If the Court House cannot be retained, we would support using the decorative fixtures and characteristics of the building to inform the new design with some of the most distinctive and attractive features possibly being re-used in the new building. These include the lead stair capping detail, the internal mosaics and the columns and lights at the entrance to the Court House.

(v) Trio Place. We are pleased that the mews will not be gated and will remain open to the public. We understand that it is planned that the mews houses will have external balconies. Currently, these would overlook the police car park. Are you aware of any plans to sell/develop the car park which could improve the view and explain the plans for such external balconies?

(vi) Car and bike storage. We understand that the development will include bike sheds and provide for disabled parking, which we would support. There has been a suggestion that the accommodation for people with mobility issues would be at the north of the development with the associated car parking at the south end, which would not be ideal given the mobility issues of those concerned.

(vii) Social/affordable housing. We note that this will be at the centre of and a integral part of the development.

(viii) Community space. We note your efforts to establish the best non-residential use for the corner of Harper Road/Swan Street. Ideally, a solution would have sufficient flexibility to double up as a venue for community use from time to time (eg a cafe that could be booked for occasional parties, meetings etc).

(ix) Refuse storage facilities. We note plans to provide new bin storage space for use by residents of 16-20 Trinity Street as well as the residents of the development. This should reduce the volume of rubbish dumped near the entrance to Trio Place on Trinity Street. However, the dumping of rubbish by residents of Trinity Street to the west of Trio Place may still be a problem.

One area that was not covered in the presentation was the number of dwelling places you are planning in the development and the expected total number of occupants. Hopefully, you will be able to share this information with us in the near future.

There are two main respects where we still take issue with the direction being taken by the architect and the developers.

1. Height of the tower block on the Swan Street/Harper Road corner
We understand that the developers are planning a tower block on the corner of Swan Street/Harper Road which will be eight or nine stories high. Such a structure will dominate the neighbourhood, dwarfing the surrounding streets, feel oppressive and take away some of the charm and reasons why people enjoying living here. We would particularly oppose a development on this site of sufficient height to be visible above the current skyline of the TCS conservation area and would be interested to see visualisations of how the proposed tower block will look when viewed from Trinity Street and TCS.

2. Section 106/Community Infrastructure Levy money
The focus of spending Section 106/Community Infrastructure Levy money would appear to be Newington Gardens and the dog park on the south end of Swan Street.

We object to wasting money on improvements to the "dog park”. The area serves its purpose well at present – dog owners stand at the gate, release their dogs from the lead and allow them to roam. The main requirement is for an open expanse of grass. Park "furniture” is of limited value and the space will never be used as a family area given that dogs are off the lead and there is the inevitable problem of dog excrement. We support the continued use of this space as a "dog park” given that Trinity House is now enforcing its ban on dogs in the TCS and Merrick Square gardens and the Council has considered banning dogs in Newington Gardens.

This is a development in Trinity Village and TNRA would argue that such monies should be used for investment in Trinity Village – to the benefit of Trinity House and its tenants. Our priority would be to address deficiencies in the TCS conservation area set out in the appraisal produced by Southwark Council (see attached). In particular, we would argue for the funding to be spent replacing poor quality pavements in TCS with York stone. Starting with the pavement along the north side of TCS – which will represent a logical continuation of the new York stone pavement to be laid in Globe Street up to the corner of TCS under the Quietway scheme. Thereafter, we would look to complete the York stone pavement around the TCS garden itself. There is York stone on the west and east side. The poor quality paving on the north and south sides should be replaced with York stone so that York stone runs around the whole garden.

Obviously, the precise amount and application of Section 106/Community Infrastructure Levy money will be a matter for negotiation between the developers and Southwark Council. Our suggestion is that the starting point for your negotiation should be for as much of this money as possible to be spent within Trinity Village, investing in and improving the Trinity House estate.

We are very grateful for the efforts made by the architect and the developers to consult with the community on this development. We are appreciative of the steps you have taken to address the concerns raised after the meeting on 9 October. We look forward to your response on the two substantive points raised above.

TNRA's comments sent to Haworth Tompkins by TNRA chair Edward Heckels on 10 April 2015 after the fourth consultation meeting

We are very pleased that TNRA's substantive concerns have been addressed. The height of the tower block on the corner of Swan Street and Harper Road has been reduced from a possible nine storeys to seven and the tower block now includes provisions for significant community/event space on the ground floor and basement. We are also pleased that the developers and our councillors are supporting TNRA's proposal that Section 106 money from the development should be used to enhance the appearance of the Trinity Church Square conservation area.

With regard to Trio Place, we agree with you that having the mews houses along Trio Place is a better proposal, as this is the best way to activate Trio Place and improve the safety of this street.

I note that the ground floor and basement of the tower block is earmarked for a D1 non-residential institution. This could include "clinics, health centres, crèches, day nurseries, day centres, schools, art galleries (other than for sale or hire), museums, libraries, halls, places of worship, church halls, law court. Non residential education and training centres.” The managing agent for the site will no doubt be working hard to find a D1 tenant for the site in due course. We would ask that any lease should include provisions for TNRA, other community groups and local residents to use these facilities, if necessary after hours or at an otherwise convenient time, for a very nominal charge.

We would like to see windows (facing Borough High Street) on the top floor of the tower block, as this may require the development expected in due course next door to keep within certain height limits.

There needs to be some sort of screen for the balcony which faces 18 Trinity Street so people can’t see into their bathrooms and bedrooms.

We remain keen that the cladding of the buildings should blend in with the surrounding area and be of high quality.

It is unclear from the PDFs of the Event boards if you are retaining the proposed roof top garden and bee keeping facilities at the north of the development. Please can you confirm.

At the second community meeting, you unveiled plans to provide new bin storage space for use by residents of 16-20 Trinity Street as well as the residents of the development. The dumping of rubbish by residents of Trinity Street to the west of Trio Place will still be a problem. Will the proposed refuse storage facility in Trio Mews be large enough to accommodate residential refuse from the west end of Trinity Street?

Please can you confirm arrangements for community input as the plans develop and there are the inevitable changes that occur on a project of this sort between now and completion.