Council officers back plans for West Norwood scrap yard

The entrance to the proposed scrap yard

Lambeth council officers are recommending that planning permission be granted for a controversial metal recycling plant that would have implications for traffic across the borough and beyond.

Some elected councillors, including Matthew Bennet, the cabinet member for planning, investment and new homes, have openly opposed the plans to turn a small car breakers’ yard in West Norwood into a major metal reprocessing unit.

The officers’ report will be considered by the council’s planning applications sub-committee on Tuesday 13 July. It makes it clear that the West Norwood application is linked to another application to build more than 200 flats on a site on Shakespeare Road in Herne Hill that is currently used as a waste processing plant.

Both applications are from property developer Urban & Provincial, which shares a director with the recycling company that would operate the West Norwood site, Southwark metals.

Opponents if the scheme, who include local MP Helen Hayes (Lab, Dulwich & West Norwood), say the site – at the end of Windsor Grove, a narrow cul de sac, and bordering a school and housing – is totally unsuited for a large metal recycling plant served by large numbers of HGVs.

protest with placards
Cllr Matthew Bennett (centre) at the protest against the scrapyard in May this year

The MP spoke at a recent lively protest outside the site. Cllr Bennet also took part in the protest along with local councillors.

Campaigners against the scheme warn that it would increase the number of HGVs on Lambeth roads, including Brixton town centre and around Brockwell Park.

Transport for London initially opposed the scheme and Croydon council, which believes its streets would also be affected if the scheme goes ahead, continues to do so.

Windsor Grove is a turning off the relatively narrow West Norwood High Street, which is used by buses serving Brixton. Local residents have already complained about congestion in the area caused by lorries serving nearby builders’ yards.

When it was a car breaker’s yard, the site processed 152 tonnes of metal a year and was visited by an average of nine cars a day.

The initial application for the new use proposed that 35,000 tonnes of metal would be processed each year.

Following objections from Transport for London (TfL), this was reduced in a revised application to 25,000 tonnes a year which would involve 78 daily visits by motor vehicles – 52 of them cars, nine HGVs longer than 12 metres and 17 smaller lorriess.

These figures are disputed by opponents of the scheme.

large lorry
Southwark Metals HGV

Windsor Grove also houses a Royal Mail distribution depot and is already used by about a dozen HGVs every day.

Objectors say there is no way that these figures can be enforced by the council.

TfL’s first reaction to the plans to process 35,000 tonnes a year was to say that: “Norwood High Street is already quite narrow and may lack capacity to accommodate the additional large vehicle trips generated by the proposal which would have an impact on local bus routes and local highway network.”

It said the “limited capacity for additional large vehicles on Norwood High Street” also means that there is likely to be traffic congestion.

Croydon council said that a change to the way of calculating the number of large vehicles visiting the site in the application – made after discission between Southwark Metals and Lambeth council planning officers – “is not acceptable and is not the acceptable industry standard of how these types of vehicles are calculated” and could underestimate the number of large vehicles attending the site.

Croydon says that: “The surrounding road network is heavily trafficked and the application does not include analysis of the effect of these larger vehicles will have on existing traffic conditions or an analysis of accidents within the area.”

Lambeth council officers say the revised plans take these objections into account, but Croydon has not updated its comments.

urban traffic
West Norwood High Street at the junction with Windsor Grove – the road is already congested and used by HGVs serving local builders’ yards

Other concerns include the danger of flooding. The River Effra runs under the site.

Lambeth council officers have told the applicants that they must be able to prove the site’s drainage system can meet certain standards before construction of the proposed plant can go ahead.

Thames Water was working on the proposed site in June this year, but a spokesperson told the Blog that it was repairing a collapsed sewer.

building site
The site at the end of Windsor Grove

The officers’ report runs to 54,000 words and contains details of several conditions that would be imposed on the site if Lambeth council approves the application.

It can be downloaded from the council website.

The meeting of the planning sub-committee will be streamed online. Details on the council website.

The Norwood Forum has full details of the campaign against the site:

More than 5,000 people have already signed a petition against the plans.