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OPEN Dalston objections to Ridley Road Shopping Village redevelopment: planning application 2017/2897

1                    These further objections are made in the light of:
a. revisions made to the planning application lodged by the applicants agents CMA Planning on 18.11.19 and
b. Hackney Council’s decision dated 13.12.19 that 51-63 Ridley Road is an asset of community value
2                    51-63 Ridley Road London E8 2NP is a substantial and strategically located building and land on the central north side of Ridley Road. It has a covered market on the ground floor known locally as the Ridley Road Shopping Village. It presently comprises:
-     60 small retail units ( Use Class  A1) occupying 879sqm on the ground  floor which are presently occupied by about 20 independent, and predominantly black Asian and minority ethnic, business owners
-     718sqm storage facilities in the basement (Use Class B8) which is predominantly used as ancillary storage (for retail stock and barrows) by the street market and covered market traders, 
-     1,567sqm of studios on the first and second floor (Use Class B1) providing work and exhibition space for approximately 60 artists.
-     a forecourt providing day time and night time open amenity space including use in part for night time storage of  street traders stalls/barrows

3                    The planning application has been revised on 18.11.19. The development proposal  now  appears to be, in summary, for:
-     a reduction  from 718sqm to 300sqm (58%) of B8 market storage facilities in the basement and a change of use of the remaining basement by conversion into B1 office use
-     a 65% reduction in the number of ground floor small retail units from 60 units of approximately 9sqm each totalling 540sqm to 21 units of approximately 9sqm each totalling  200sqm with the remaining ground floor use to comprise A1 circulation/storage/entrance/lift,  B1 office lobby and core of 139sqm and C3 residential lobby and core of 123sqm
-     the refurbishment of the first and second floors to create 1,435qm “high standard of commercial accommodation” and 56sqm C3 residential core
-     the omission a ground floor building extending across the frontage forward to the pavement edge but instead to retaining it as landscaped open space
-     development of a new third floor comprising  484sqm C3 residential being five “very high standard” flats for families ( 4x3 beds and 1x2 beds) all for private sale.

4                    The proposed development will require a change of use of part of each floor of the building by the addition of B1 use on the basement floor, B1 and C3 use on the ground floor, C3 use on the 1st and 2nd floors, and C3 use on the new third floor.

5                    For the reasons explained below the development proposals are contrary to the Council’s planning policies and are detrimental to the social wellbeing and social interests, including the cultural and recreational interests, of the local community.

6                    The planning authority does not appear to have undertaken an equalities impact assessment of the proposal.

7                    For these reasons the application is objected to and should be refused.

Detriment to the social wellbeing and social interests of the local community

8                    The Council’s decision that the land and building at 51-63 Ridley Road is an asset of community value is a material consideration when a development application for changes of use is considered. The decision noted that the existing uses of the building, namely the small retail units, storage areas, open space and cultural and creative uses of the upper floors, contribute to the social wellbeing of the community and that the building and land had been used in its current form for a considerable amount of time and that this was an actual use which furthered the social wellbeing or social interest of the local community and which satisfied the statutory requirements for reaching the decision.
9                    The proposed development would harm the social wellbeing or social interest of the local community by the loss of 39 of the existing 60 small affordable retail units by their replacement in part to service upper floor B1 office and C3 residential uses, by the loss of 50% of existing basement market storage facilities and replacement in part by B1office uses, by the replacement of existing affordable artist’s studios with “high standard of commercial accommodation” of which only 10% are to be affordable and replacement in part to service residential uses above, by the introduction on a new third floor of five private family homes with residential interests which will conflict and compete with the market’s commercial interests and by the proposed landscaping of the open space which would prevent  its use in part for overnight storage of street market stalls/barrows.  

Loss of affordable retail units

10                Planning policy designates Ridley Road as primarily for retail uses. If the development is approved there will be an overall loss of 39 (65%) of ground floor indoor market stalls. Approval of the development would be contrary to the Council’s draft Local Plan Policy LP40.A.i, which resists permanent loss of market pitches, and LP33.D6 which provides that development in Ridley Road should  further enhance the retail offer” whereas the proposed development would substantially reduce the retail offer and the diversity of that offer.

11                The existing retail units in the Shopping Village are affordable for independent traders due to their small size.  The reduction from 60 to 21 small retail units without alternative provision would be contrary to the Council’s policy  DM8 which requires  proposals for the redevelopment of small shop units to incorporate adequate reprovision of small shop units”.

12                The reduction in affordable units will in turn result in a reduction in the diverse range of affordable and specialist products which the market presently offers its customers and as a consequence will result in a loss of local character and diversity contrary to Council policy.

13                The proposed use of part of the prime ground floor retail space for storage, cycle racks, refuse storage and an office would be an inefficient use of land.

14                Approval of the development would also be contrary to emerging New London Plan policy E9. B.7 which expects LPAs to support the range of London’s markets, including street markets, covered markets, specialist and farmers’ markets, complementing other measures to improve their management, enhance their offer and contribute to the vitality of town centres and the Central Activities Zone

Loss of storage facilties for traders

15                If the development is approved half of the existing basement storage use which is used by street market and Shopping Village covered market traders will be replaced by office use.

16                The existing on-site storage facilities are critical to the sustainability of the businesses of the traders who use them. Without on-site storage facilities traders will incur the additional costs of transporting goods daily from off-site stores and holding stock locally during the trading day. This will add to traders’ overhead expenses and compromise their businesses’ viability. For these reasons approval of the application would be contrary to the Council’s  draft Local Plan 2033 and its  Core Strategy Policy 14 which is to “protect and promote” Ridley Road market. Approval would also be contrary to its Development Management Local Plan Policy DM 13 which requires “Safeguarding sites allocated for the storage of market equipment, market facilities and parking for traders’.

17                Approval of the development will result in traders having to resort to commercial vehicles for transporting and holding their stock locally which will increase road and parking congestion, and air pollution, on local roads and in the market at the commencement and close of the trading day.

18                The Shopping Village forecourt is used for overnight storage of street market traders’ stalls/barrows for which no alternative storage is proposed or available locally. For these reasons approval of the development  would be contrary to the Council’s policy Policy DM 13 and of seeking to “promote and secure improvements to the markets' environment, and management 

Loss of affordable cultural workspace and increase in office accommodation

19                If the development is approved there will be an increase in office accommodation which, as explained above, would be at the cost of a substantial reduction in retail and ancillary storage space and of affordable artists’ studios. Ridley Road is not designated for employment workspace. Approval of the development would be contrary to the Council’s policy (LP33 PP2) which designates Ridley Road for development opportunities which further enhance the retail offer whereas this proposal significantly reduces that offer. 

20                The development proposes a “high standard of commercial accommodation” and the applicant relies upon its consultant’s opinion that the existing offices on the 1st and 2nd floor are “not fit for purpose” because, for example, they lack raised floors, air conditioning, server rooms and cabling which tenants “particularly those in the creative industries” require.

21                In fact many sectors in the creative industries have no requirement for ‘tech hub’ type facilities . The existing offices have been used as artists’ studios and exhibition space for over 13 years and that use could conveniently continue. What the cultural industries primarily require is affordable workspace but the expenditure anticipated to meet the proposed “high standard of commercial accommodation” will render the offices unaffordable. Only 10% will be reserved as “affordable” and this is defined by the applicant as 80% of market rent whereas the Council’s policy LP29 C ii provides for 60% of market rent.  Approval of the development would be contrary to the Council’s policy DM6 and LP10 which commits the Council to resisting the loss of cultural facilities  unless it is “necessary to secure a development which will deliver wider planning benefits for the community” which this development does not claim to and will not deliver. We also refer to New London Plan policy HC5.1 which expects LPAs to “protect existing cultural venues, facilities and uses”

No gain in employment opportunities

22                The applicants consultants advise that the development could support 137 jobs. The existing uses provide employment capacity for some 60 artists and some 90 traders in the 60 retail units. It is not considered that the proposed development would provide a greater number of employment opportunities than the existing development nor increase footfall to benefit the market.
23                It is correct that the numbers of traders in the Shopping village has recently reduced significantly however this has arisen from historic poor management, threats of eviction and the perception that redevelopment was imminent.

New family homes to conflict with market and night-time economy uses

24                The Dalston Area Action Plane policy DTC24 designates Ridley Road for   predominantly retail/market use with residential above.
25                Ridley Road is a 6-day week street market. Traders are permitted to set up from 6am and are required to trade during the trading day and vacate the road by 6pm or 7pm on Friday and Saturday. There is a popular neighbouring licensed premises with permitted hours extending to 3.30am on Thursday-Saturday. Absent extensive acoustic insulation, Ridley Road is unsuitable for noise-sensitive uses. 
26                The existing residential accommodation in Ridley Road comprises hostel accommodation for single people above ground floor retail uses. The development of 2 and 3 bedroomed “very high standard” private family homes in this bustling street market is without precedent.  The applicant’s acoustic consultants advise that the “front [façade] will see noise levels in excess of upper guidelines” and these levels cannot be mitigated for exterior balconies or when windows of the flats are opened. The development is likely to give rise to conflict between the competing interests of resident families, market traders, the Council’s market management and night-time businesses.
27                Whilst there is some policy support for residential development above retail we suggest that residential uses, and particularly family homes as opposed to single person’s accommodation, are inappropriate.

Planning Conditions

28                If permission is granted planning conditions should require the prevention  of later amalgamation of the small retail units into larger retail units and require a higher proportion of upper floor affordable office units and ground floor affordable retail units.

13th February 2020

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