Goodbye heritage, hello high density and lack of parking


News has reached us that the earlier example of the Cutler Patent gas holder in Tunbridge Wells, held up as the more important surviving example of this internationally significant industrial heritage has ..... been "demolished".

Haringey council was quick to support the demise of its own heritage on the basis that a more important example survived elsewhere. Now this has gone, wouldn't you expect English Heritage to look again at the Victorian Society's call for Hornsey Gas Holder No.1 to be listed and protected.

You could not find a better place or opportunity to develop something truly innovative from such a well loved landmark; something that will celebrate the our industrial and design heritage and put Wood Green (and Haringey) on the 'best in class' map of urban regeneration. We should not forget so easily how our borough was built with the most modern of technologies and how industry and community existed site by side as partners in their community. Should we not fight to save this old friend.


Is this the end of Gasholder No 1?

Is this the end of Gasholder No 1?

The Heartland development has been approved, despite concerns from residents and many unanswered questions.

Roger Kemp writes:

Decision time for Heartlands arrived on the evening of 22 September. And Heartlands has been granted Outline planning permission.
In stark contrast to the meeting when Coronation Sidings, this meeting only had 10 people in the public gallery, not standing room only as it had been for the earlier meeting. Which is odd when we were told that Heartlands is the current biggest planning Application in the Borough.

The meeting started with Councillor Whyte asking for the decision to be deferred as an enquiry was starting on Friday 23 September into the question of employment areas. If I understand the position correctly, her point was that the result of that six-week enquiry could affect the way employment areas are viewed locally, and may change the policy to a greater or lesser degree. She was rudely put down by the Legal representative as if she did not know what she is talking about. Councillor Whyte is a practising lawyer. And manners cost nothing. She was told that as the enquiry was into other sites it was of no relevance. This was characteristic of the meeting in which every effect was made to push the application through.

Heartlands through the developers' eyes: "Sloane Square of Wood Green"? (click to enlarge)

Heartlands through the developers' eyes:
"Sloane Square of Wood Green"? (click to enlarge)

The Planners took a long while making their presentation. During this they made several amendments without, as far as I know, giving any prior notice. These included admitting that the residential blocks would be higher than previously stated because of the lift housing, but they emphasised it would not be a complete storey. But are we being told the complete story? The Planners came across as evasive. Throughout the meeting there were instances of people being arrogant and/or patronising.

The gas holders are to go because English Heritage will not list them. They ignored the fact that the holders had been listed locally until fairly recently. They do not want to keep them as it would be too costly – the tank underneath has to be emptied etc. The applicant denied it had anything to do with money.

The Moselle brook will remain covered. This, it was said, because it was too deep, too polluted . When they were told it had been opened elsewhere, that the Environment Agency, in charge of rivers, wanted it opened, then they said there was no room. They did not say it would cost too much.

They admitted that at least 2 houses in Hornsey Park Road would be moderately affected by shadowing, and 1 house slightly less, but said this was insufficient reason to stop the works. (No mention about just altering what was causing the overshadowing).
They said that the site had to be intensively developed because of the requirements of the London Plan. They also said that the applicant was subject to approval by the Mayor.

They admitted that the provision for open space was a lot less than it should be, but said that Alexandra Park was close by (is it really?), and that money from the Planning agreement would be spent on nearby open spaces.
The current main employer on the trading estate will have to be relocated. They employ about 80 people. Their landlord will try and find them another location within the Borough, otherwise the jobs will be lost. The new site will create some jobs but apparently a lot of the employment opportunities will be outside the site. When pressed on this (like trying to nail down jelly), both the Planners and Applicant were, at best, very vague.

It sounds as though the future residents of the new development will not have car parking permits – someone said that. But then, it is anticipated that most of them will have no cars. I wonder if that will be right. They intend to have 1,200 cycle spaces and it came out that is planned to be one for each resident. I, in my ignorance, had thought that with proposed maximum of 1080 residential units, it was likely to be about 2,000 residents. But no, it will be half that. And all will be travelling around on pedal bikes. We are going to be living in Amsterdam. They are trying to get two bus routes into the site. The vehicle access will be mainly on Mary Neuner Way. There will be pedestrian access from Hornsey Park Road.

There will be money for a health centre. The Applicant will speak to the Primary Care Trust to see if they are interested. If not the money can be used elsewhere for health ; quite how was no revealed.

The view from Ally Pally was discussed and now they are trying to say that the blocks may not be like a cliff-face, but may be broken up. When they were raised with their architect he was a lot more vague and said that they could do what they wanted, providing it was within the footprint of the Application.

One Councillor thought that an Outline Planning application was very general and only dealt with things like access to the site. Quite worrying that such people are the decision-makers.

Thanks to Marcus , Colin Marr and the others for putting up such a noble fight.

At the end of the meeting Councillor Bob Hare tabled a resolution that the Application should be rejected for various reasons which he carefully specified. He gained the support of some other councillors, but lost the resolution.

The main vote took place, and it was granted Outline Planning permission, but with a pretty slim majority.
One Councillor managed to vote for both resolutions i.e. For and Against the Application.

So we may sleep soundly, reassured that our future interests are being protected by capable people.

(by Roger Kemp via the comments)

Please read on for the Residents Associations concerns regarding the development:

  1. This residents association has not, as stated been consulted on the current application. There has been no discussion, dialogue or conferring in any way with us by the applicant or via Officers. We acknowledge that we received the standard Statutory Notification. The Officer’s Report is misleading when it states that we have been consulted (apparently, extensively). We believe the same is applicable to other residents associations.
  2. The individual and collective views of six residents associations have not been listened to and, as you will see from the Officer’s Report have not been responded to.
  3. Little has changed since the failed 2009 application – of 13 blocks, 11 have the same number of storeys, one has actually increased and only one (small block) has reduced from 4/5 to 3/4 storeys. You would not get this impression from the Report or the conclusion it seeks you to draw from so called negotiations with the applicant.
  4. The lower density of the failed 2009 application is all but the same as the higher density of the current scheme! The applicant is, in effect asking for what was unacceptable two years ago. Officers fail to make the point that there could be no material change since the failed 2009 application.
  5. The failed 2009 was a comprehensive redevelopment: the current scheme is of a materially lesser standard because it relies upon future development that may never take place, i.e. it cannot make new linkages, provide overall levels of open space and create high quality design and amenity: it is not acceptable to use the “intensification” argument when the higher standard used to justify it cannot be achieved.
  6. The claimed linkages to thesurrounding area simply don’t exist – links will be through twilight-ish commercial/industrialareas, in some cases passing decaying frontages.
  7. The failed 2009 application included more employment as well as “live-work” accommodation: notwithstanding Policy(which is being set aside), employment and work opportunity are today more critical than ever and should not be lightly supplanted with housing that could go elsewhere. Accessibility, co-location with the Chocolate Factory and educational sectors, amongst other businesses and small innovation and craft industries would make Heartlands much more than a housing estate.
  8. It is widely recognised that theWood Green town centre offer will be challenged by shrinking and shifting markets, and likely to have a surplus of space, as it becomes increasingly a ‘value offer’ . It is imperative that the Heartlands has diverse employment opportunities as required by the SPD and Heartlands Framework, quite separate from retail. Craft, technology, education, innovation and leisure can be seen to be suited to the area.
  9. The impact of development on AlexandraPark is scandalously dismissed, to the point where we must wonder whether Officer’s have even read the applicant’s documents. The slab blocks will form a wall of development that will dwarf the ‘railway operations’ referred to as providing acontext. They will, by the applicant’s own illustrations effectively enclose the historic and protected park. The Officer’s state there will be an “adverse impact” but lamely go on to say that there may be scope for limiting this at detailed design stage: this is not an acceptable (or a legal) position whendealing with listed buildings and park.
  10. The Environment Agency has recommended refusal because the application does not restore the Moselle Brook, as required by its  ‘Bringing your rivers back to life’ Strategy. The GLA’s report corrects Officer’s assertion that the Brook is a “sewer” – how partial to the applicant can the Officer’s Report be! The GLA goes on to say that the Brook should be de-culverted and the applicant “needs to re-examine the proposed development”. Officers have failed to report impartially and negotiate with the applicant to achieve development of the quality reasonably to be expected.
  11. An even greater indictment of the Officer’s Report is its failure to challenge the casual assertion that the Moselle Brook is ‘polluted beyond action’ when, in nearby Lordship Rec, the Brook is being restored by the council and Lottery funding. If there were some pollution, it is the responsibility of Thames Waterto deal with unlawful foul discharges into water courses: there is ample time to attend to this over the time span of development and current EA Strategies to 2015. The Officer’s Report is again partial to the applicant by failing to apply policy and failing to examine the applicant’s submissions, even when prompted by Government Agencies and residents.
  12. Environment Agency says in its objection: “However, in light of [our]policies and plans, the stance on [not] de-culverting must be re-assessed. There is a clear, tangible and significant environmental gain in terms of the character of the area and nature conservation for this development. It would help to reconnect the future residents of the area to the environment, an element which is severely lacking in the area.  Moreover, properties in close proximity to water, i.e. waterside development, have been shown to be significantly more attractive and fetch between 10 to 20% more than properties not adjacent to water". A perfectly acceptable option is described in the applicant’s submissions. The Officer’s Report ignores this, even though the point is repeated by GLA policy.
  13. The open space in Hornsey Park Road is of high value to an area seriously deficient in such space, by the terms of the Local Plan. Its loss to intense housing with parking and street play space, and the creation of a link into the Hornsey Park area of Wood Green will cause serious loss of amenity to residents and disturbance in an otherwise, narrow congested road without amenity space. The lime trees and space should be retained as a amenity space for Hornsey Park.
  14. Overall, there is a significant under provision of open space (a 2/3rd under provision), particularly of the sort that will be of value to the new and established Hornsey Park community. The intense development of Heartlands will increase the need for open space in our area, as we become landlocked between the new development and Wood Green Town Centre.  There will be little opportunity to create more amenity space in future development of Heartlands around Coburg Road. This problem should have been addressed as part of the application. S.106 money will not abate the problem.
  15. Hornsey Gas Holder no.1 is de facto a valuable heritage asset and landmark in our area.The Victorian Society has called for its protection and it has been cited by the council for possible local listing (Buildings of Townscape Merit). Officer’s have relied on a reluctance by English Heritage to list the structure duringthe application but the fact remains it is a ‘heritage asset’ and could belisted. The Officer’s Report is casual in its analysis and partial to the applicant’s stance. Policy has, for example been updated since 2010, yet the Officer’s and applicant are relying on a stance taken as part of the failed 2009 application.  Since April 2011, English Heritage has been asking for nominations from the public on what they considers worth of protection, (i.e. not what the planners think) and this month are focussing on our industrial heritage. Department of Culture, Media and Sport Policy is clear – there can be several examples of the building or structure being considered – the number is not relevant. Officer’s can therefore expect a review of their current position.

Departmentof Culture Media and Sport (DCMS)  -Principles of Selection for Listing Buildings 2010

“The historic environment embraces all those aspects of the country that reflect the shaping hand of human history. Our understanding of the historic environment now encompasses a much wider range of features, and in particular stresses the relationship between individual buildings, and also the value of historic townscape and landscape as a whole. There is growing appreciation not just ofthe architectural set pieces, but of many more structures, especially industrial, agricultural and other vernacular buildings that, although sometimes individually unassuming, collectively reflect some of the most distinctive and creative aspects of English history. Where a building qualifies for listing primarily on the strength of its special architectural interest, the fact that there are other buildings of similar quality elsewhere is not likely to be a major consideration. However, a building may be listed primarily because it represents a particular historical type in order to ensure that examples ofsuch a type are preserved. ”

There are agreat many reasons why the Officer’s Report is, in our view poor and reaches the wrong conclusion. Marc Dorfmann asked those at the August Development Control Forum to write with their concerns, to enable officers to understand and put to the applicant. Manifestly, neither have been done and the Officer’s opinions at that time have not been responded to by the applicant or reflected in the work of Officers.

We wouldask that Officers are now asked to address our concerns rigorously and that the PSC does its best to protect the area from this poor scheme and so help Wood Green reach its full potential in future.

Yours sincerely


Chair –Parkside Malvern Residents Association

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  • © Parkside Malvern Residents Association 

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