The following is my response to the planning application for the proposed new block of flats and conversion of two warehouses on Wapping High Street. You can view the application here. There are a few typos, as I rushed to send a response off as I thought I had missed the deadline.
UPDATE: LoveWapping has kindly given me a photo of pedestrians trying to use the southern footpath.
Broadly, I support the development, but I have significant outstanding concerns.
My views on the design of the building are included in the community consultation responses. My response is page 22 of 25 of part 2, submitted as an email on 10 April. My concerns about the landside development windows remain, particularly the windows on the eastern side/south eastern corner, which are not in keeping with the other buildings in the area. I wish that submission to be considered in conjunction with my review below of the additional documents included with the application.
If I need to resubmit these views formally, please let me know.
I understand and accept the need to close footways during the erection of scaffolding. However I have concerns on a temporary but unspecified impact on pedestrians.
Drawings 12/0911/SK02 and 12/0911/SK03 in Appendix B of the Construction logistics plan show the logical fact that if one pavement is closed for the erection of scaffolding, the other must be used.
However, there is a fundamental issue with the proposal and that is that footpaths at this point on Wapping High Street, by Phoenix Wharf are much narrower than elsewhere. The southern footway is not an adequate pavement. I have not had opportunity to measure it with a tape measure, but it is narrow. Outside of Phoenix Wharf the pavement is barely broad enough for a single pedestrian to walk along this is evident from photos in the Conservation plan document and also Google Streetview, where a pedestrian can be seen walking by Phoenix Wharf. The diagram indicates a width of around 60cm but is narrower in places, is not continuous, nor does it have any dropped kerbs. What this means in practice is that a) the disabled or those with buggies and b) pedestrians walking in opposite directions will be forced into the carriage way. However, the carriageway is laid with setts and may not be suitable for wheelchairs and buggies to travel over.
In approving the application, the Council should consider whether there are appropriate safeguards for pedestrians and request information on how long scaffolding will take to erect.
Impact on road users
In the Transport plan, it is stated that the 100 bus travels down Wapping High Street every 10 minutes, in fact the frequency of the bus is every 6-8 minutes during the week, 7am-7pm (source: TfL website). The Logistics Plan states that for two years there will be between 3 and 16 lorry movements daily. Using the schedule, I calculate this to be, on average, approximately 9.5 per day (including the Christmas period). The described activities are:
- Delivery & subsequent removal of scaffolding, plant and equipment to site;
- Muck-away (tipper) vehicles for the removal of excavated / demolished materials;
- Ready-mix concrete deliveries for new-build construction;
- Deliveries of formwork, reinforced steel, timber, brickwork, decking, roofing and fitting / fixtures;
- Delivery and subsequent removal of gantry crane, chutes and hoists.
If one were to assume each loading/unloading takes twenty minutes, this is over three hours of closure of Wapping High Street, per day for two years.
There would therefore for each of these lorry movement be 2 or 3 buses prevented from travelling down Wapping High Street in each direction, or 4-6 in total. Across the course of a day, this would be 40-60 buses affected. Even if my assumption of 20 minutes is overly pessimistic, a ten minute delivery/pickup would still potentially affect 20-30 buses per day.
Whilst local traffic might be usefully diverted down Green Bank, I would be interested if TfL have a view on whether Green Bank is suited to buses travelling down it, and whether two buses could pass each other on the road and whether the buses could successfully make the two turns from Green Bank to Scandrett Street to Wapping High Street and vice versa. Furthermore for the duration of any delivery, individuals at waiting at affected bus stops would not necessarily be aware of the additional delay. It appears to me logical that to allow these bus movements, parking restrictions would need to be enforced and residents provided with additional parking facilities.
The Council should consider if this disruption is proportionate.
I welcome the application and the proposals, but have some concerns about the landside building’s windows. However, at present there is insufficient information and consideration in the planning application on logistical grounds to justify allowing it, particularly given the impact on the disabled, those with young children, the elderly and those dependent on bus services.
I do not believe Councillors should permit the application without visiting the site and receiving example fixtures, fittings and finishes such as window frames and balcony metalwork. These should not be left for subsequent approval of a condition of approving the application. Under no circumstances should the application be approved without the developer addressing concerns about logistics.