Lambeth Council and the construction contractor held an question and answer session on the estate yesterday, so residents could pop along, view the building plans and ask any questions they had.
The event was attended by residents and members of the Palace Road Estate Residents’ Association. Lots of useful information was talked through, questions answered and there were also discussions about the location of the temporary shop. The current shop will close as it will become part of the site boundary during construction works, however a temporary shop will be installed beside the site on Palace Road.
Concerns about construction noise, contractor parking and the duration of the project were answered by staff representing the contractor and Lambeth Council. The contractor will have an open door policy during the construction works as well as issuing regular newsletters to keep residents updated on the works.
It is anticipated that the construction works will start in late Autumn and take approximately one year to complete. The finished building will bring a new energy to that end of the estate after years of being an empty space, as it will contain a shop and cafe for residents to use.
We have just heard (through leaflets dropping through our doors) that there will be a Q&A session this Saturday about the new building on Coburg Crescent. There will be a marquee next to the hoarding around the demolition site, at the junction of Coburg Crescent and Palace Road, between 9.30am and 12.30pm.
Recently, we wrote about an application for a variation to the planning permission for the new resource centre on Coburg Crescent, giving 26 July 2019 as a deadline for comments. However, no planning notices had been posted about the variation. As with the original application, the planning department appeared to have forgotten their obligation to post such notices. After being reminded, notices appeared on 20 August (see photo) with a revised deadline for comments of 10 September 2019. Comments can be made on the planning website, here.
This post follows on from an earlier post about the proposed changes to the Coburg Crescent resouce centre. The changes proposed for the first floor are shown in the plans below:
The main change, in respect of community provision is a reduction in the size of the shop floor from 82 to 54.7 square meters. This is mainly due the stock room being moved from the ground floor to the first floor. The stock room has also shrunk – from 53 to 34.3 square meters.
These changes were presented to the planning case officer on 12 July 2018, but PRERA only heard of these changes in July 2019, when letters were sent to some residents. The deadline for us to comment is 26 July 2019.
There are many documents related to this variation available at the council’s planning website. The covering letter gives the rationale for the changes:
In parallel with the process of determination for the planning application, the project was being priced by the appointed Contractor. Unfortunately, the estimated cost was significantly over budget and as a result it was necessary to undergo a period of value engineering.
Details of the variation are summarised by the council as:
Condition 2: The proposal seeks the following revisions to the approved drawings: – reduction the massing of the building: – removal of shop storage and plant room from ground floor level and re-provision of storage room at first floor level; – revised the internal layout and external design; – additional stair core in the building, – enlarged outdoor courtyard space; and – changes to the external cladding material from clay tiles to a metal shingle cladding in a similar colour.
Conditions 17 and 18: Revised wording to allow additional time for BREEAM certificates.
Condition 5, 8 , 9 and 15: Details have been provided to satisfy the requirements of these conditions.
The following images illustrate the changes to the external appearance of the building:
The most significant change, as far as the appearance of the building goes, may be the change in cladding material from clay tiles to metal shingles, hung at a 45 degree angle. The pictures also illustrate something of the reduction in size of the building, as now proposed.
The changes to the internal layout of the building are explored in separate posts detailing the changes to the ground, first and second floors.
At the end of August the Lambeth Council Planning Committee issued a decision notice on the application to build a new resource centre on Coburg Crescent. As expected, permission was granted, subject to conditions.
There are many important conditions, but a key condition for us, in terms of being able to use the new building, is number 22:
Prior to the occupation of the development hereby permitted a Community Use Agreement shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the local planning authority confirming that the community space will be made available for hire and use by the local community and community groups, subject to the normal operational constraints of the day centre service and with due consideration given to the need to safeguard the users and residents of the Resource Centre. The development hereby permitted shall thereafte be operated in accordance with the approved details.
Given that this new development was only made possible by demolishing our community hall, we have argued strongly that we should be able to use the communal facilities in the new building (café and community space) freely and without charge.
We have received a statement from the council about the preparatory works for the new building on Coburg Crescent:
“In May 2018, following concerns about existing soil conditions at the Coburg Crescent site, a further round of soil investigations were commissioned. The resulting survey has now been received by Farrans, our preferred contractor.
The apparent presence of ground water within the soil profile assumed by the previous survey findings necessitated a very robust design response from the structural engineer, meaning deeper piles below ground and the need to utilise waterproof concrete. This in turn generated concerns around the cost of the project and negative impact on length of the construction period.
The locations for the trial pit and boreholes for the new survey were carefully considered, given the perceived higher water table level around the southern/ Palace Road boundary.
Very positively the latest set of results indicate that the moisture encountered higher up in the soil profile is not present at lower depths, where the piled foundations will be formed.
The main contractor will now review this latest set of results and develop their design for the building structure accordingly.
We believe that this will result in a less robust approach to sub-structure design, without the need for waterproofing, which in turn should, reduce the time needed for delivery of the works, thereby lessening any disruption to local residents and also having a positive cost impact.
Further information will therefore be available in August once the design has been revised.”
On 15 June, representatives from PRERA met with the Lambeth Council’s new Cabinet Member for Housing – Cllr Paul Gadsby. Also present were our local councillor Liz Atkins and several senior officers responsible for the council’s housing stock. At the meeting we discussed four key areas:
We felt that the meeting was a significant milestone in our campaign to get a better service from the council in these areas. Signs of progress include:
An acknowledgement from the council that Palace Road Estate has not been receiving the service it should from housing management.
A restructuring of the housing management service next month, with reallocation of housing officers to estates.
A written description of the service that we should expect from estate housing officers.
Recent surveys of the structural condition of the blocks of flats. This will inform future prioritisation of works across Lambeth.
The scheduling of an inspection of the estate by the incoming manager responsible for housing across the whole of Lambeth [carried out on 22 June].
A commitment that leaseholders would not be charged [directly] for work to rectify problems with the poorly constructed cladding for the water pipes that were installed in 2013.
An acknowledgment that water distribution around the site is failing and needs replacement. This was proposed to be included in the 2019/20 capital works programme.
A commitment to develop a policy for bulky waste disposal on council estates.
Prioritisation of Palace Road Estate in the placement of the council’s stock of mobile CCTV cameras (after Tulse Hill Estate), to deter fly-tipping.
Support from Cllr Gadsby for residents to have access to the community space within the new resource centre on Coburg Crescent.
An acknowledgement that the council needs to better engage with PRERA in future.