Plans refused for 499-home high density London business park revamp

Plans for a 499-home high-density mixed-use redevelopment of a business park in south London have been refused against a recommendation for approval from planners.

A visualisation of the finished development
A visualisation of the finished development

Earlier this week, the London Borough of Southwark’s planning committee refused a full planning application for the demolition and redevelopment of the Burgess Business Park in Camberwell. 

Developer Peachtree Services Ltd's proposals included 499 homes, up to 3,725 square metres of class B1 commercial floorspace, up to 128 square metres of class D2 leisure floorspace and up to 551 square metres of class A1-A3 floorspace in 13 blocks of between two and 12 storeys.

Council planners had recommended the scheme for approval. A planning report said that it would "bring about the regeneration and beneficial reuse of an ageing industrial estate, most of which is currently vacant and some of which has been vacant for more than a decade".

While recognising that the development would result in an overall reduction in employment floorspace, planners advised that the refurbished and redeveloped space "would be of a much higher quality, able to attract a wider range of occupiers and support higher employment density".

Planners also said that the scheme would deliver 499 new homes, including a local planning policy compliant 173 affordable units.

The report acknowledged that the inclusion of housing, retail and community uses on the site would be a departure from a saved local planning policy relating to preferred industrial areas.

But they reprted that this "must be weighed against the wider benefits of the scheme" and with regard to a policy in the council’s emerging local plan proposing a change from industrial use at the site to a mixed-use employment and residential neighbourhood.

Planners also advised that the scheme’s design would be "of a high quality, reflecting the industrial heritage of the area".

On density, the report said that the development would equate to 1,415 habitable rooms per hectare. It added that local planning policy sets a range of 200 to 700 habitable rooms per hectare for such sites, while the London Plan sets a range of 200 to 450 habitable rooms per hectare.

Planners said that, although the scheme would exceed local density guidelines, it was "not considered that exceeding the density threshold would warrant withholding permission in this instance".

However, the council went on to refuse the application. A spokeswoman for the council said that the committee’s reasons for refusal were that the design was "not exemplary because of the under provision of amenity space and the minimal compliance with space standards for the units within the scheme". She added that the building heights proposed would be "too high for the area", and the loss of light industrial space would be "contrary to current and emerging policies".

Last month, Southwark Council approved plans for a 1,150-home development up to 48 storeys high, despite officers recognising that the proposal would be contrary to local policy because part of the site is identified as a strategic industrial location. In July, the council approved plans for the 978-home mixed-use redevelopment of the Elephant and Castle shopping centre


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