Quill ++

info@oldbermondseyforum.org || tel: 020 7378 0707

Meet your proposed new 517ft high neighbour: Quill ++

At over five hundred feet tall, if this tower fell over it would span from

its St Thomas St. Capital House site to Snowsfields Primary School.

Comments can be made on the Quill++ Planning Application 18/AP/0900 until 27th May.

Please click here for full details.

The below truncated images (to which we have added the cropped out bit) are taken from the "Townscape and Visual Built Heritage Assessment" section of the submitted documents. The application contains one hundred and thirty six files in total, sixty four of which constitute the Environmental Statement alone. The upcoming meeting will give an opportunity for a full discussion of the proposal, it's potential impacts upon the area and how we can best mobilise to resist such anti­social development ­ and the domino effect of similar schemes that we know are being cooked up with the Council for St Thomas Street.

Major issues we can already highlight are: height and appearance, affordable housing, environmental impact:

Height and Appearance

At 45 storeys and 157m high the tower represents a 50% increase in height over the site's previous fantasy student scheme, the Quill Mk.1.  It ups the proposed student population of the building from 500 to over 1000.

The proposal affects the backdrop of St Pauls as seen from Parliament Hill (a supposedly key view in the 'London Views Management Framework') to a much greater extent than did the previous permission. This is clear to see from the image below. We are currently seeking clarity from the GLA over the advice they gave the applicant on this subject. Click here to see informal comments from an (as yet) unnamed officer which we recovered recently through an FOIA request.

"Hi (xxxx) – some brief obs below for this one… haven’t gone into any detail for the LVMFs, doesn’t look like there should be any major issues though." ...

"The proposed height is supported subject to further townscape views testing (both existing and cumulative) in terms of how it will contribute to the form of a future cluster around the Shard."

In terms of local impact, the council's official Pre-Application Advice Letter of 8th March stated that the proposal was "oppressive and overly dominant as a direct result of the excessive height" (full quote given below). This advice was ignored by the applicants who submitted their proposals just 12 days later with an increase (rather than any reduction) in height. We are yet to establish whether this was just window-dressing by the Council (who knew we would be calling for disclosure of the pre-application advice) with a wink to the applicants that they didn't really mean it.

"The proposed height at 153.03m cannot be supported as it would have a significant and harmful impact on views from within the Bermondsey Street Conservation Area and protected views from within the Tower of London. Furthermore, it is considered that the height of the building would be excessive, particularly in views westwards along St Thomas’s Street whereby the building would be oppressive and overly dominant as a direct result of the excessive height. Officers have expressed these concerns from the outset and consider that the height of the building should be significantly reduced."

Affordable Housing

"Officers accept that in this instance that providing affordable housing off-site would be a suitable alternative"

In the same letter the council waived through the proposal to provide 0% affordable housing on site. This is contrary to policy 6 of the core strategy of Southwark's core strategy of 35%, and indeed in direct contrast to the passionate claims and pledges made by the recently re-elected leader of Southwark Council, Peter John, during the local elections.

In doing so the council planners were passively swallowing an extremely questionable argument put forward by the developer (and their architects), hinging on the idea that the proper functioning of the proposed Migration Museum at ground floor level would make it impossible to provide an entrance to anything but one thousand and twenty eight student rooms above. 

This argument is summarised in the Planning Statement (please click here pages 35-40) however the pre-app advice letter from the council referred to some recently submitted "further detail"... typically this does not appear to be included in the application, however we found it to comprise (also recovered through FOIA) a study by KPF Architects and an accompanying letter from planning consultants DP9. We can discuss this at the upcoming meeting however anyone interested can click here and have a quick look at pages 123-157 inclusive.

This key study by the architects was not available when we requested to see it at the developer's "consultation" exhibition in January - even though on-site affordable housing was already well off the table. Please click here for the page on Greystar's website where you can view the exhibition boards. If you search for "affordable housing" you will find it appears once, towards the bottom, preceded by the word "off-site" and followed, almost unbelievably by the phrase "for local people".  Everyone knows, most of all Peter John, that they can't make the kind of money out of the desecration of the historic environment in London Bridge that the developers want in order to offer a good share of the booty to the Council.

Greystar, DP9 et. seem to have disregarded the Council's request at pre-app that a "full Viability Assessment and a separate Executive Summary is submitted in accordance with the Councils Development Viability SPD". The Executive Summary included in the application - which points to a "circa £14m towards affordable housing" - appears at a quick tally to have a £30m hole in it.

Environmental Impact Assessment

The council are still out for consultation (and refusing to comment) on the EIA Scoping Report that was submitted by Greystar before the planning application was made. Please click here to view this report which (in a table on page 43) asserts that the proposal could have either a moderate adverse "--" or moderate beneficial "++"  affect on the Wind Microclimate! Fortunately they are clearer on Daylight and Sunlight Etc which gets a simple moderate adverse label. In socio economic terms, despite the wonderful migration museum, a "net loss of employment floor space can be expected" (page 34) - so much for local jobs and businesses in the 'Central Activities Zone'

To report to the meeting any avid reader with an appetite for scrutiny of the Environmental Statement documents and its (invariably specious) justifications would be greatly appreciated. The images below are extracted from Appendices 16.1 Daylight and Sunlight Drawings.