Lawrence Road developments + some planning history

The Council has announced the following proposals for Lawrence Road N15

Proposal: 45-63 Lawrence Road: Demolition of the existing buildings and redevelopment of the site to provide one interconnected new building ranging from the to seven storeys in height which includes a recessed top floor comprising 80 residential units (use class C3) and 566sqm of commercial floor space (Use class B1/A2) on ground and first floor level, including 17 car parking spaces and associated works.

Proposal: 67 Lawrence Road: Demolition of the existing buildings and redevelopment of the site to provide a 7 storey building fronting Lawrence Road which includes a recessed top floor and four storey mews block to the rear, comprising 69 residential units (use class C3) and seven live work units on ground and first floor level, including 14 car parking spaces and associated works.

2 Development Management Forum meetings – open to all – will be held at West Green Baptist Church, 182-184 West Green Road, Tottenham N15 5AF (access to meeting room via Dorset Road N15).
a)    one on Thurs 30 June for 50-56 Lawrence Road and
b)    one on Mon 4 July for 45-63 and 67 Lawrence Road.

The redevelopment of Lawrence Road has been discussed and planned for at least the last 10 years. The views of residents and residents’ groups, and indeed the content of most of the actual official planning policies, have unfortunately been sidelined and ignored.

For the record, here’s a summary compiled in June 2007 of residents’ views and opportunities regarding the Lawrence Road area, which if adopted would have improved the area for the benefit of local people… People can and must, of course, continue to campaign for protection and positive improvements to our neighbourhoods. Victories are still being achieved where there are strong and active local grassroots organisations and campaigns. In any case, the long-term building up of our collective voices and activities is in itself a real achievement in the face of the current ‘top down’ and unaccountable Council and corporate power.

Lawrence Rd development site opportunities
– June 2007

Introduction      There is a consultation in progress about the future of Lawrence Road – currently a huge and neglected industrial site which has now been earmarked for ‘mixed use’. This is a unique chance to improve a large area in the centre of residential Tottenham. Hence it is vital that people in Tottenham as a whole, especially in the local communities around the area, speak out loud and strong with their views on how Lawrence Road should be turned into a street with facilities and an environment that benefits the community – an area everyone can be proud of!

Past successes      It is worth noting that local residents’ and residents associations in the area (especially the Clyde Area RA) recently campaigned together to save the popular Fountain Pub in West Green Rd, opposite the end of Lawrence Rd, from being demolished and turned into yet another block of flats. Originally the Planning Dept held a public meeting for local residents about that proposal, asking for people’s views on the design of the replacement flats. However, everyone at that meeting insisted the pub must be saved – they demanded the Council reject the application but were told by planning officers that it would be ‘impossible’ to save the pub.

However after a long campaign of lobbying, petitions, protests and publicity, and attendance at Planning meetings and appeals, residents won!

At another, similar planning meeting a year ago a bit further afield residents were told by planning officers that it would be impossible to insist on a new entrance into Chestnuts Park through a new factory-site development. However after strenuous lobbying by residents and the local Friends of Chestnuts Park at various planning hearings and appeals, the entrance has finally been agreed.

Only 3 years ago residents, residents associations and Friends of Parks groups fought – and won – to stop the Council allowing schools to annex parts of our parks.

There are many other examples of what residents can do when we get together and don’t take ‘no’ for an answer… So lets speak out loud and strong for what we really want.

Planning Obligations      ‘Section 106’ Planning Obligations – as set out in the Council’s Special Planning Guidance SPG10a – give the Council the power to insist on conditions for any proposed development of any size. However, the larger the development, the greater the opportunities for insisting on conditions which benefit the community. Section 106 powers specified include the creation of open space, improvements to the environment and street scene, creation of ‘affordable’ and social housing, employment training, education and health provision, and provision of community facilities of all kinds. For mixed use development areas such as Lawrence Rd, the Council can also insist on ‘an acceptable balance of uses’.

It should be noted that the Lawrence Rd site is massive. Individual, separate developments within the site may themselves each constitute ‘a major development’ and should each have conditions imposed on them. However, because of its overall size and therefore its importance, the aim of the Planning Brief and consultation is to ensure that the site as a whole secures opportunities and improvements for local people.

Residents views     Ideas for the future of Lawrence Rd that would benefit the community rather than selfish private developers were drafted and put to the official local public consultation meeting on 24 May, attended by about 35 local people, many from local residents associations.

There was overwhelming support for a new local park, for low (not high) density housing, for good design (buildings and environment) appropriate to the site’s position as being surrounded by a Conservation Area, for a range of community facilities relevant to the surrounding communities, and for affordable accommodation for local small businesses and community/voluntary groups.

Further views and details

1.  There is a need for a new local park.  The whole of Lawrence Rd is in an area categorised by the Council as an area of open space deficiency. In fact, according to the London Plan, which guides planning in London (see p146, para 3.251 and table 3D.1) everyone is entitled to live within 400 metres of a local park ie an open space of at least 2 hectares in size. The current, tiny, Elizabeth Place play area towards the northern end of Lawrence Rd should be expanded and made into a Local Park – ie increase the open space size to at least 2 hectares – and properly managed as such by the Council.

There should also be an area of green space and play equipment at the southern end of Lawrence Rd.

These points are recognised in the current Lawrence Rd Planning Brief, para 5.11.2, which states: ‘There may be opportunities to increase the provision of public open space by extending the existing public open space at Elizabeth Place park or, and [sic] create new open space elsewhere within or near the planning brief site. Where appropriate planning obligations will be used to help achieve this.’

The need for additional open space is also recognised in the Haringey Unitary Development Plan (UDP)  see p128, para 8.30, which estimates that current open space would need to be increased by an additional 40% throughout the borough to reach accepted minimum standards, considering the current population levels, let alone the projected future increases in population.

2.  Design and facilities must be appropriate to and enhance the surrounding Clyde Area Conservation Area, one of Tottenham’s few such areas. This is recognised in the HUDP (p149, para CSV1) which states that ‘The Council will require that proposals affecting Conservation Areas:
a.   preserve or enhance the historic character…
b. recognise and respect the character and appearance…’

Note: This also applies to developments which border Conservation Areas.

3.  There’s a need for new allotment site to address allotment deficiencies. The Haringey UDP states (p130, para 8.40) that, in addition to the current provision of 1819 plots ‘there is an estimated requirement for up to 1552 additional plots or 31ha of allotment land..’ . Allotments sites are valuable open space, good for wildlife, and an educational resource. They also contribute to creating more sustainable and self-sufficient communities and lifestyles.

4.  There’s a need for small and affordable accommodation for voluntary and community groups who are currently desperate to find appropriate spaces in Tottenham, and also live/work units. HUDP p145, para 10.4 states: ‘Haringey will assist the voluntary and community sector by addressing their need for accessible and affordable accommodation.’

5.  If and when any new housing is allowed on the site then this increases the need for social facilities of all kinds in the area. Such facilities should be built as part of the development, rather than just a financial donation to existing facilities (like schools etc) as that may not actually result in improved local facilities. This could include community meeting places, and leisure, health childcare and education facilities etc. The Haringey UDP states, p145 para 10.2: ‘Where development increases the demand for community facilities such as schools, childcare and healthcare, the Council will seek to ensure that local facilities and services are able to absorb the additional demand, and it will negotiate, where appropriate, a Section 106 agreement to secure the provision of additional facilities and services.’

6.  As Lawrence Rd is in an area surrounded by mainly suburban scale housing (up to 3 storeys), any housing on the site must be of similar low density to preserve and reflect the character of the surrounding area, which as has been noted, is also a Conservation Area with additional protection policies.

The London Plan deals with densities on p175-6, Table 4B.1 and paras 4.47. It defines ‘suburban’ areas as: ‘lower density development, predominantly residential, of two to three storeys as in some parts of inner London and much of outer London’.

‘Urban’ areas are defined as areas of ‘dense development, with a mix of different uses and buildings of 3-4 storeys, such as town centres, along main arterial routes and substantial parts of inner London.’

The range of densities recommended for suburban development is 200 – 350 habitable rooms per hectare. The range for ‘urban’ development is 200 – 700hrh.

7.  Social housing is the only housing that is guaranteed to go to those most in need. In the Haringey UDP p75, the Guiding Principle on housing is: ‘Every one in Haringey should have access to a decent, affordable and safe home appropriate to their needs’.

The Council has Section 106 powers to insist on the type of housing built, and specifies (para HSG4) ‘Housing developments capable of providing 10 or more units will be required to include a proportion of affordable housing to meet an overall borough target of 50%’. Para 4.20 states that ‘The London Plan requires boroughs should seek to achieve a….. London-wide objective of 70% social housing and 30% intermediate provision’.

These are pathetically low percentages, considering the scale of real housing need. They allow greedy developers to make huge profits by building luxury housing and thereby riding roughshod over the needs of local people. Yet despite the 50% affordable target (of which 35% should be social housing), the last figures available (for 2005 – see the HUDP Annual Report) show that only 11% of the 624 homes built in Haringey that year were earmarked for those on social housing waiting lists – the only guaranteed affordable category of housing. This is scandalous, and a dereliction of the Council’s duty. They clearly have a lot of catching up to do, if only to fulfil their planning obligations.

So-called ‘affordable’ housing – which includes the ‘social housing’ and ‘intermediate housing’, but which still made up only 33% of those 624 homes – is in fact unaffordable to the vast majority of the population, let alone those who live in Tottenham. Hence, in my opinion, 100% of any homes built in Lawrence Rd should be designated as ‘social housing’ for those on the waiting lists of Housing Associations and Council housing.

In any case, there is also a need to prevent (through covenants etc) any of the homes built being sold as ‘buy to let’.

8.  There were feelings expressed by local residents at the official public meeting that hostels, hotels and take-aways would not be appropriate.

9.  It is often said that people in Tottenham are desperately in need of job opportunities. But any employment created will not go to local people unless there are strict specifications placed on any workplaces in Lawrence Rd that any jobs created should go to local people.

10.  It must be insisted that, for each and every development that takes place in Lawrence Rd, the existing trees should be protected and general improvements made to the street scene (making it safer, greener and more liveable for users). This includes ‘living frontages’ for all buildings adjacent to roads. Guidelines for this are set out in the Council’s ‘Streetscape Manual’.

June 2007

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