planning report PDU/2068/01
28 March 2008
Mulberry Business Centre, Quebec Way, SE16
in the London Borough of Southwark
planning application no. 07 AP 2806
Strategic planning application stage 1 and 2 referral
Town & Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended); Greater London Authority Act 1999;
Town & Country Planning (Mayor of London) Order 2000
Demolition of existing buildings and the erection of a series of buildings ranging from 3 to 8-
storeys comprising 256 flats; B1 (office) floorspace; car parking; landscape and highways
The applicant is Mulberry Park Investments and the architect is Panter Hudspith
The principle of a mixed residential and commercial development is welcomed. Affordable
housing at 35% with a 62%/38% split between social rented and intermediate housing is
acceptable given the results of a 3 Dragons appraisal. The mix of units is acceptable given
that 2, 3 and 4-bedroom units are to be provided. The development will feature an integral
children’s play space.
The approach to design is appropriate. The proposal is acceptable in transport and access
In relation to energy, further investigation of CHP is required. A biomass boiler will be used
which will deliver 12% savings in carbon emissions.
That Southwark Council be advised that the Mayor is content for it to determine the case
itself, subject to any action that the Secretary of State may take, and does not therefore wish to
direct refusal. However, a condition needs to be added to ensure further investigation and
implementation of the energy strategy.
1 On 18 January 2008, Southwark Council consulted the Mayor of London on a proposal
to develop the above site for the above uses. Under the provisions of the Town & Country
Planning (Mayor of London) Order 2000 the Mayor had the same opportunity as other
statutory consultees to comment on the proposal. On 18 March 2008, Southwark Council
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resolved to grant permission and on 19 March 2008, it advised the Mayor of this decision.
Under the provisions of the Order 2000, the Mayor may now direct Southwark Council to
refuse planning permission and has until 1 April 2008 to notify the Council of such a direction.
This report sets out the information needed by the Mayor in deciding whether to direct refusal.
2 The application is referrable under Category 1B of the Schedule of the Order 2000:
“Development (other than development which only comprises the provision of. ..houses and flats) which
comprises or includes the erection of a building or buildings …outside Central London and with a total
floorspace of more than 15,000 sq.m.”
3 The Mayor of London’s comments on this case will be made available on the GLA
4 The application site is located a short distance from Canada Water Underground
Station and Surrey Quays Shopping Centre. The site is currently known as Mulberry Business
Park and forms a collection of former industrial and commercial buildings located on the
corner of Canada Street and Quebec Way within the Rotherhithe peninsula.
5 The area is undergoing significant change with higher density predominately
residential-led mixed use schemes replacing under utilised former industrial sites.
6 Adjoining the site to the east is Harmsworth Quays, a 24-hour newspaper printing
works and to the north is a school. There are also commercial and residential uses in the
Details of the proposal
7 Planning permission is sought for a mixed use proposal comprising 256 flats and 5,105
sq.m. of commercial floorspace. The accommodation would be located in a number of blocks
ranging from three to eight storeys.
8 Adjoining Harmsworth Quays would be a building providing the office accommodation
which would provide a buffer between the residential and industrial uses. The massing of the
development would be highest against Harmsworth Quays gradually reducing to the perimeter
at the school and Canada Street.
9 The development would have a series of courtyards and public spaces. It is designed to
be permeable to encourage pedestrian movement and activity through the site.
10 An appeal for a development comprising 407 flats and commercial floorspace was
dismissed in December 2005 for design; loss of amenity; poor public realm; and insufficient
housing mix reasons.
11 An application for a development comprising 253 flats and commercial floorspace was
submitted and withdrawn in 2007.
12 Neither of the above applications were referred to the Mayor.
Strategic planning issues and relevant policies and guidance
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13 The relevant issues and corresponding policies are as follows:
Housing London Plan; PPS3; Housing SPG; Providing for Children and
Young People’s Play and Informal Recreation SPG; draft Housing
Urban design London Plan; PPS1
Transport London Plan; the Mayor’s Transport Strategy; PPG13;
Access/Equal opportunities London Plan; PPS1; Accessible London: achieving an inclusive
environment SPG; Wheelchair Accessible Housing BPG; Planning
and Access for Disabled People: a good practice guide (ODPM);
London Plan; Planning for Equality and Diversity in Meeting the
spatial needs of London’s diverse communities SPG; Diversity and
Equality in Planning: A good practice guide (ODPM)
Sustainable development London Plan; PPS, PPS Planning and Climate Change
Supplement to PPS1; PPS3; PPG13; PPS22; the Mayor’s Energy
Strategy; Sustainable Design and Construction SPG
14 For the purposes of Section 38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, the
development plan in force for the area is the July 2007 Southwark Unitary Development Plan
and the London Plan (Consolidated with Alterations since 2004).
15 The proposal would provide 256 flats. This is welcomed as the residential units will
increase the supply of housing in London (London Plan Policy 3A.1).
16 In relation to affordable housing, Circular 6/98 supplements Planning Policy Guidance
Note 3 by amplifying the Government’s preferred approach to planning and affordable housing.
Paragraph 1 states that: “A community’s need for affordable housing is a material planning
consideration which may be properly taken into account in deciding planning applications.”
17 The London Plan has set a target that 50% of all new dwellings should be affordable.
18 Policy 3A.10 of the London Plan (‘Negotiating affordable housing in individual private
residential and mixed-use schemes’) states that: “Boroughs should seek the maximum reasonable amount
of affordable housing when negotiating on individual private residential and mixed-use
schemes….Targets should be applied flexibly, taking account of individual site costs, the availability of
public subsidy and other scheme requirements.”
19 The proposal would provide 35% affordable housing when measured by habitable
rooms. This has been justified by a Three Dragons toolkit assessment and the appraisal has
also been verified by Southwark’s property team. The provision of more affordable housing
on the site would make the scheme unviable. 35% affordable housing is the maximum
reasonable amount that can be provided on the site.
20 Within the affordable housing provision, the London Plan sets out an objective of
70% social housing and 30% intermediate provision. The proposal offers 62% social rented
accommodation and 38% intermediate provision. This is acceptable in this instance given
that the 3 Dragons appraisal demonstrates that the scheme would not be financially viable if
it were to be fully compliant with the London Plan policy whilst also making a Section 106
contribution (£1.8 million) towards items including education and health.
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21 The mix of units is as follows:
Proposed SPG market Proposed SPG social Proposed SPG
market mix mix social rented rented mix intermediate intermediate
mix mix mix
1 bed 127 (62.5%) 25% 0 19% 0 66%
76 x 2- 75% 16 x 39% 9 x 2-bed; 6 Varies on
3 bed beds (37.5%) 2-bed; 14 x x 3–bed individual
3-bed (83%) (88%) circumstances
4 bed No target 6 (17%) 42% 2 (12%) 34%
22 This mix of units does not fully accord with the guidance provided in the Housing
SPG particularly in relation to the market housing, which is mostly 1 and 2 bedroomed.
Within the affordable accommodation, the majority of the units are 3 and 4-bedroomed (20
out of 36) whilst in the intermediate units, 8 out of 17 are 3 bedroomed or larger. There are
no 1-bedroomed units within the social rented or intermediate accommodation. This overall
mix is acceptable.
23 The density of the development is 733 habitable rooms per hectare (hr/h). This
broadly accords with guidance set out in the London Plan for a location such as this (200-
700 hr/h). The density is also justified by the design of the proposal which responds well to
the site and the standard of the accommodation proposed. All of the flats will have direct
access to a balcony, terrace or garden. Many of the flats (56%) will be dual aspect. The
density of the development is also acceptable given the site’s local context and public
24 The development will include a children’s play area with the Section 106 agreement
providing funding for play equipment.
25 The design of the proposal is an effective response both to the constraints of the site and
the criticisms of the scheme dismissed at appeal. The forms of the building are shaped in order
to allow good daylight and sun penetration to the flats and the courtyards. The bulk, massing
and height are all appropriate.
26 Within the development, the buildings have been laid out in a series of interconnecting
fingers that incorporate private and public spaces in between.
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27 The design rationale for the external facades of stacked timber is an attempt to reflect
the area’s history as a dock that stored timber on site following importation. While this could
be accused of being a rather unusual approach to design evolution, it works well in a modern
interpretation – residential elements are separated; there are recessed balconies and projecting
28 The approach to public and private space is appropriate – there would be six courtyards
within the scheme of which three would be private and accessible to residents only. The
development is designed to be permeable. A public pedestrian route is created through the site
from Quebec Way. This new route includes a shallow water course and could subject to the
future redevelopment of the adjoining site allow for a continuation of the route to the rear of
the shopping centre.
29 The site is located on Canada Street to the north east of Surrey Quays Road. Jamaica
Road (A200) and Lower Road are in close proximity to the site and are part of the Transport
for London Road Network (TLRN) and Strategic Road Network (SRN), respectively. Canada
Water underground station providing access to the Jubilee Line and Canada Water bus station
are less than 500 metres from the site. The site has a public transport accessibility level
(PTAL) of between 3 and 4 on a scale of 1 to 6 where 6 is the most accessible.
30 A total of 106 car parking spaces have been proposed, 96 of these have been provided in
respect of the 256 residential units; this equates to 0.39 spaces per residential unit. 4 spaces
have been allocated to the office element of the proposal and 6 for a car club. This level of
parking is within London Plan standards and therefore deemed acceptable.
31 In relation to cycle parking, a total of 311 spaces have been proposed. TfL is satisfied
with this level of cycle parking proposed as it is in line with TfL guidelines.
32 The applicant’s overall assessment of the impact of this development on the local bus
and London underground networks is poor. Although TfL does not expect this development
alone to result in a negative impact on the public transport networks, TfL has concerns
regarding the impact of cumulative development in the area on bus priority and potential bus
journey time increases as well as the impacts on the already congested local highway network.
A contribution towards measures set out in the Rotherhithe Multi-modal study would be
welcomed in order to improve bus journey times and local highway improvements in the local
33 TfL expects a full construction management plan to be prepared and agreed with TfL
and the Council in order to minimise the impact of construction vehicles on the local highways,
bus networks and other more vulnerable users such as pedestrians and cyclists. This is
safeguarded by a condition.
34 TfL welcomes the developer’s commitment to provide a travel plan for this
development. This should include appropriate measures and targets aimed at encouraging
modal shift and responsible travel behaviour. The travel plan should also be i-trace compliant
and secured, enforced, monitored and reviewed as part of the Section 106 agreement.
35 In summary, TfL supports this application and understands a combined sum of
£365,000 will be allocated towards transport improvements in the vicinity of the site.
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36 An access statement has been produced. It demonstrates that the development would be
fully accessible. The routes and courtyards are designed to be fully accessible with level access,
ramps, resting spaces and non-slip surfaces.
37 All of the flats will be built to Lifetime Homes standards and 10% will be wheelchair
38 The application was accompanied by an energy statement which sets out how the
Mayor’s energy hierarchy has been addressed.
39 Some of the energy efficiency measures will include facade engineering and thermal
mass construction; sedum green roofs; and daylight/sunlight penetration to reduce reliance on
artificial lighting. There will also be rain water harvesting that utilises the water feature
element within the landscaping.
40 The use of combined heat and power has been investigated. The energy consultants
have advised that whilst technically feasible, the financial case is dependent on what is done
with the electricity generated. The consultants have recommended that unless an energy
supply company or other suitable provider can be found who is willing to develop and operate a
private wire network in addition to the heat network, this option is not recommended.
41 Whilst the above is recognised, further investigation is required particularly given the
opportunity presented by the volume of projected development in the area which this
development could link to.
42 In terms of renewable energy, various technologies have been investigated. It is
proposed to use a biomass boiler which will deliver 12% savings in carbon emissions.
London Development Agency’s comments
43 The LDA support the principal of the proposal. The application proposes to make
financial contributions towards education, public open space, health and community facilities as
well as employment contributions both during construction and in the development. The
Agency would suggest that the contributions towards education are further detailed, and
encourages the consideration of childcare needs in particular, as a means of tackling barriers to
44 In order to ensure the aims of Policy 3B.11 (‘Improving employment opportunities for
Londoners’) of the London Plan are met and that local residents and businesses benefit from the
creation of jobs, the Agency would suggest the developer submit an employment and training
strategy as part of the Section 106 Agreement, which could cover the following elements:
Timing and arrangements for its implementation including funding arrangements.
A stakeholder charter to ensure initial and subsequent employers within the
completed development participate in the implementation of the strategy.
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Minimum local recruitment targets for employees and targets for the involvement of
local businesses and measures to be undertaken by the applicant to meet with these
Periodical workforce and business monitoring and reporting of the results to the
Council and such other parties as may be set out in the approved strategy.
A programme for skills training for local residents and/or businesses, including the
potential for the provision of suitably equipped training premises.
Local publicity, awareness raising proposals and methods for advertising
employment opportunities and impending contracts.
Initiatives to promote the involvement of local businesses including sub-contracting
and the supply of goods and services.
Initiatives to promote the employment of small and medium businesses.
Initiatives to promote the employment of black and ethnic minority owned
45 The delivery of such initiatives will assist in ensuring the regeneration benefits of the
proposed development are maximised for local residents, and that the objective to tackle
barriers to employment set out in the Economic Development Strategy is met.
Response to consultation
46 In response to Southwark Council’s public consultation exercise, 7 letters of objection
were received. These related to closeness to the printing works; closeness to the school;
overshadowing; interference with TV reception; parking; lack of local school places; lack of
local GP and dental places; extra traffic; should not be flats but houses instead; concern over
upkeep of Albion Channel; general impact on amenity; height of the development;
overdevelopment; no proper road crossing system; pavements cracking; overlooking; loss of
privacy; loss of daylight and sunlight; noise and disturbance from people using balconies; no
social or recreational places; and re-housing of a church.
47 The above objections are recognised but do not change the conclusions of this report.
48 Under the arrangements set out in article 5 of the Town and Country Planning (Mayor
of London) Order 2000 the Mayor has the power to direct the local planning authority to
refuse permission for a planning application referred to him under article 3 of the Order. In
doing so the Mayor must have regard to the matters set out in article 5(2) of the Order,
including the principle purposes of the Greater London Authority, the effect on health and
sustainable development, national policies and international obligations, regional planning
guidance, and the use of the River Thames. The Mayor may direct refusal if he considers that
to grant permission would be contrary to good strategic planning in Greater London. If he
decides to direct refusal, the Mayor must set out his reasons, and the local planning authority
must issue these with the refusal notice.
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49 Should the Mayor direct refusal, he would be the principal party at any subsequent
appeal hearing or public inquiry. Government guidance in Circular 8/93 (‘Award of Costs in
Planning and Other (including Compulsory Purchase Order) Proceedings’) emphasises that parties
usually pay their own expenses arising from an appeal.
50 Following an inquiry caused by a direction to refuse, costs may be awarded against the
Mayor if he has either directed refusal unreasonably; handled a referral from a planning
authority unreasonably; or behaved unreasonably during the appeal. A major factor in deciding
whether the Mayor has acted unreasonably will be the extent to which he has taken account of
established planning policy.
51 The principle of a mixed residential and commercial development is welcomed.
Affordable housing at 35% with a 62%/38% split between social rented and intermediate
housing is acceptable given the results of a 3 Dragons appraisal. The mix of units is acceptable
given that 2, 3 and 4-bedroom units are to be provided. The development will feature an
integral children’s play space.
52 The approach to design is appropriate.
53 The proposal is acceptable in transport and access terms.
54 In relation to energy, further investigation of CHP is required. In relation to
renewables, a biomass boiler will be used which will deliver 12% savings in carbon emissions.
for further information, contact Planning Decisions Unit:
Giles Dolphin, Head of Planning Decisions
020 7983 4271 email firstname.lastname@example.org
Colin Wilson, Planning Decisions Manager (Development Planning)
020 7983 4783 email email@example.com
Martin Scholar, Case Officer
020 7983 5750 email firstname.lastname@example.org
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