Brixton Society and English Heritage maintain opposition to Pope’s Road tower

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Computer generated image (CGI) of the third version of the entrance to the tower – with diagonal strapping lifted above ground level and a seat at the base of a central column

Lambeth council officers last night (22 October) once again gave backing to plans for a 20-storey office block tower on Pope’s Road in central Brixton.

The council’s planning sub-committee will consider a third version of plans for the tower and other buildings running along Brixton Station Road on 3 November. Officers are recommending acceptance.

Despite some changes to the plans the committee will consider, English Heritage and the Brixton Society continue to oppose the planned development

An earlier meeting of the planning sub-committee, on 25 August, agreed to defer consideration of the plans to allow changes to meet criticisms from members of the committee, other local councillors and local MP Helen Hayes.

The applicant for planning permission is the Amsterdam-based company AG Hondo Popes Road BV.

Taylor McWilliams, the sole director of Hondo Enterprises, which runs Brixton Village and Market row on a day to day basis, is one of the directors of AG Hondo Popes Road BV. The other directors of the Dutch company represent the New York based finance company Angelo Gordon.

Hondo Enterprises has appointed a development director, Stewart Kain, who says he is “leading on the redevelopment of Pope’s Road and the regeneration of Brixton town centre”, seeming to indicate that more planned changes could be in the pipeline.

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Before and after CGI showing extra horizontal ledges at the top of the tower

A new period of consultation with neighbours of the proposed Pope’s Road development ended on Thursday (22 October). A total of nearly 1,200 comments are listed on the council’s planning website. Only 12 of them are in support of the plans.

Documents before the committee say that 999 local residents have been consulted on the application and that 2,036 individual representations have been received, of which 374 are in support and 1,662 objecting to the development.

In its objection, Historic England welcomes changes to the design of upper storeys of the tower, but adds that it does “not consider that it results in an appreciable change to the level of harm” to the Brixton Conservation Area.

It says that “this arises primarily as a result of the scale and massing of the development” which is unchanged in the most recent proposals.

The Brixton Society’s objection contains a detailed list of criticisms and points out that the height of the 20-storey element of the building is unchanged and that the link between its two towers is proposed to be one storey higher, adding: “so clearly no mitigation has been offered by the applicants”.

The application reiterates its plans for social and financial benefits arising from the development.

The applicants say that building the development would generate 440 jobs a year for more than three years – equivalent to about 145 full time equivalent jobs across the entire period. It says construction workers are expected to support spending of £2.3m in the local area over the course of the construction, equivalent to £695,000 per year. 

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They say the proposed development is expected to accommodate about 1,600 full time equivalent jobs – split 1,475 office workers, 105 retail workers, 20 restaurant workers, and 10 leisure workers.

The existing site supports only of 35 full time equivalent jobs. The workers are expected to spend an estimated £2.9m in the local area each year.

The applicants estimate that the proposed development will pay a total of at least £2.4m a year in business rates.

They say they will employ 26 apprentices during construction and operation and recruit 10 people who have been long-term unemployed.

Also promised is an endowment to for local employment and training initiatives, including a £150,000 upfront payment, then an annual index-linked payment of £56,000 for 25 years. The applicants say this amounts to £1,400,000 over 25 years, excluding indexation.

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CGI of the interior of the tower near the Pope’s Road entrance

Some 10% (20,000 square feet) of workspace in the development would be provided at 50% of market rents for a 25 years as affordable workspace for 500 local start-ups and freelancers. 

There would also be 2,000 square foot of community space in a prominent location on the first floor.

“Taken together the employment and skills and community package will have immense social value alongside the economic and regenerative effects,” the applicants say.

The new proposals for the tower will be considered by Lambeth council’s planning sub-committee on Tuesday 3 November.

Committee members are: Councillor Clair Wilcox (Labour) [Chair], Councillor Joanne Simpson (Labour) [Vice-Chair], Councillor Ben Kind (Labour), Councillor Jessica Leigh (Labour), Councillor Mohammed Seedat (Labour), and Councillor Becca Thackray (Green). Councillor Timothy Windle, the Labour group chief whip is the substitute member.