Wednesday, 4 July 2012

22 reasons to save the Ship Aground

Updated 4 July: Due to errors in the planning notices issued by Hackney planning which failed to adequately describe the scale of the demolition proposed for the Ship Aground, it is having to reconsult on the application and there has been a delay in the application being determined.

We understand it will now go to the planning sub committee on 15 August 2012. It is not too late to object: the Planning Service are required to accept and consider all comments received up until the time the application is formally determined - so please do help save this heritage asset within Lea Bridge Conservation area.


Our objections to the above planning and conservation area consent application are summarised below. If you agree, please write to Caroline.ozor@hackney.
at Hackney Planning this week.

1. Status of the application

The status of this application is in doubt and it may be invalid. There are a series of errors or misleading statements in the application forms, in drawings, and in the supporting statements. The application form states the works have not commenced – work has commenced, so the application form may be invalid. It is misleading, and possibly unlawful, for the Authority to accept ‘existing’ drawings in a planning application that do not show the building in its present state.

2. Extent of demolition
The extent of demolition of the historic fabric is unjustified and unacceptable. The fact that this has already been carried out should be entirely set aside in determining this application, as the recently published National Planning Policy Framework states.

3. Change of use
The principle of the change has not been established, nor it justified in this application.

4. Relationship to the previously consented but unimplemented scheme
The application is entirely different to the previous consented scheme in terms of land use mix, extent of demolition, scale of development and intensity of use so that scheme cannot be allowed to set any precedent whatsoever.

5. Archaeology
Archaeological impact has not been assessed and this may be significant, requiring further investigation or monitoring.

6. Designated Heritage Asset
Insufficient regard has been given to the status of this building as a designated heritage asset. The applicant and their advisors have sought to denigrate and diminish the building’s status rather than to apply proper building conservation best practice. The advisors assess the former state of the building whilst failing to mention that a substantial proportion of the fabric has been demolished.

We object to the loss of the roof-line and chimneys, the addition of a stairwell on the east wall and strongly object to the use of the front beer garden as a car park.

7. Ground contamination has not been assessed
An assessment of ground contamination has not been submitted. The excavation of the proposed extensive basement area may require decontamination or mitigation measures. The site is within a former industrial area known to be contaminated.  Adjacent sites have required de-contamination prior to development.

8. Pre-application advice
The applicant relies upon officer level pre-application advice, which is not relevant to this application because the proposed scheme is materially and significantly different to the earlier proposals.

9. Flood risk has not been assessed
The application fails to take account of flood risk and proposes a extensive basement level public assembly area in a flood risk area without any apparent evacuation strategy.

10. Other environmental impacts have not been assessed
The building has remained empty, partly demolished and boarded up for a considerable period of time. There is a possibility that habitats have become established, such as bat roosts. A stage 1 habitat survey should therefore be undertaken and submitted and, if necessary, followed up with a stage II habitat survey.

11. There are many errors in the detail of plans which obscure the extent of the many harmful changes proposed to the building
The plans and elevation are poorly drawn and contradict one another. The effect, if not the intention, is to lessen the apparent scale of the changes and the further loss of original fabric.

12. Loss of the original roof form
The loss of historic valley roof form, clearly visible from the riverside path and the Lea Bridge Road, is deeply harmful to the character and integrity of the building and the conservation area. Hackney guidance on extensions specifically opposes the loss of historic roof forms.

13. Harm to the Conservation area
The proposal will materially harm the character and appearance of the Lea Bridge Conservation Area. The proposed height in relation to the mostly single storey schoolhouse is excessive and overbearing and will diminish the historic setting. Views from the riverside path, south of the Princess of Wales, will be harmed with a further overbearing volume damaging the view of the silhouette of the schoolhouse roof.

14. Harm to the setting of the adjacent listed building
The proposal will harm the setting of the adjacent listed schoolhouse building, eroding its value as a heritage asset. The schoolhouse is Grade II listed and identified as "at risk". Hoardings currently obscure views along the row of buildings. Views from the bridge and the river will be revealed when these are removed, taking in the east side and front of the Ship Aground. It is critical that the Victorian setting is preserved in these views. The applicant’s advisors fail to even identify these views and potential impacts.

15.  Harm to the viability of future plans to restore the adjacent listed building
Plans to restore the schoolhouse are advancing with considerable progress expected in the next year. The proposal will materially affect the future functioning and setting of the schoolhouse and the plans to bring the schoolhouse back into viable economic use as an education and interpretation centre. A ‘tipping point’ has been reached and the survival of the building is in doubt if a scheme does not come forward in time to save it. The proposed car park serving 100 guests would obviously be a visual eyesore, create noise and have potential safety implications for school parties attending the schoolhouse. It may even require modern signage and yellow lines in the cobbled lane or adjacent roads, which would detract from the listed schoolhouse and may jeopardise the chance to secure Heritage Lottery Funding.

16. Basement impact
The proposed extensive basement is an unjustified overdevelopment of the plot and will create a very poor quality environment for users and neighbours. A full assessment impact assessment (BIA) is needed.

17. Fenestration
The applicant has misrepresented the proposed loss of the original fenestration, glazing and external doors. Misleading errors in the plans and elevations demonstrate that most if not all windows and decorative glazing is to be removed, bringing further destruction of the historic fabric and a further diminution of the designated heritage asset.

18. Over development
The scale of the development and intensity of the use represents a gross overdevelopment of the plot with serious consequences for both the functioning of the property and potentially significant effects upon neighbours and the highway and side streets. The application should be refused because it is overdevelopment.

19. Capacity
The proposed layout and the mix of use uses will clearly exceed the capacity of the property to accommodate the significant numbers of visitors and users anticipated (but not fully detailed in the application). The plot, the proposed scheme and layout and the neighbourhood as a whole cannot accommodate the intensity of use proposed.

It is a great mystery why such as a substantial increase in volume and floorspace is needed, and so much historic fabric must be sacrificed, in order to serve so few users and visitors; only a few more than the applicant suggested could be accommodated in their first scheme, which involved no demolition and no increase in volume or floorpsace.

20. Traffic and transport impacts
Serious errors and oversights in the transport assessment appear to follow from the earlier misleading statements in relation to capacity and the pattern and intensity of use of the site. If the data inputs are wrong then the assessment is flawed and the conclusions cannot be relied upon. The application should be refused on the ground that a proper assessment of the transport impacts of the development has not been undertaken.

21. Parking
The loose proposal to negotiate a ‘Pay and park’ deal with Paradise Park is deeply problematic. These spaces are not owned or controlled by the applicant; they serve an established residential and commercial community; they are outside the ‘red line’; and they are to be secured at some future date so that they cannot be controlled through this application or a S106.
Most importantly, this indicates that the applicant anticipates the need to provide for significant numbers of additional car-bound visitors, contrary to their assertion  (and the submitted studies) that visitors will be few.

22. Fire and Emergency strategy
A fire/emergency strategy has not been submitted and this may have serious consequences for both the every-day safe operation of the property and when it is used intensively for festivals etc. as well as the safety implications for neighbouring properties and their shared access paths and roads.

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