Putney Society Supports Expansion Of Exchange But Voice Concern Over Traffic & Design

A copy of the Chair's letter to Wandsworth Planning Department


Original report

Planning application

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Dear Sirs,

Comment on planning application 2011/5639
96-98 Putney High Street (Putney Exchange)
The Putney Society, on behalf of our members generally welcomes this application for the opportunity to bring extra shopping floor space to the town centre. We agree with the Council’s assessment that just this sort of bigger unit is required to help the town centre economy, and are pleased to note that at the same time the very small, specialist, units either side of the Exchange entrance will be kept.

However we are concerned about some aspects of the design. The UDP (paragraph 69) says:
“Visual interest is related to contrasts in building form and elevations, including small-scale detailing, especially important at ground floor level, and an interesting skyline. The choice of materials can be especially important. Detailed design can also emphasise features such as entrances, public spaces, views and vistas (see policy TBE8), and help orientation.”

This proposal shows no small scale detail, a flat skyline, no emphasis on the most important entrance in the whole street and materials alien to the High Street, which is predominantly red brick with stone or painted details. The post modern style of the existing entrance may be out of fashion, but fits in much better for all the reasons given in this policy. We see no reason why this should be destroyed to be replaced with something in keeping with neither the High Street nor the rest of the Exchange.

It is widely agreed that the High Street pavements are congested. Pedestrian shoppers need more space to be comfortable. The Council's Walking Strategy seeks this. It would be a simple matter to set back the new shop front at ground floor level to widen the pavement in front of the large shop unit, and we ask that the scheme is revised to include this.

While we accept there is latent demand for additional car parking at the Exchange we remain concerned at the potential impact on traffic congestion implied by this additional capacity. It is unfortunate that no additional cycle parking is included, but we can see why this may not possible on the Exchange site, except perhaps next to the delivery entrance in Lacy Road. The Council should, however, seek a Section 106 contribution to reallocating a small number of pay and display spaces in Lacy Road or close by to deal with this.

With air pollution a clear concern at this location, the parapet at the top of the new High Street elevation, which in any case needs to be robust enough to cope with vehicle impact, should also be impervious to prevent vehicle exhaust fumes from dropping into the High Street. The proposal drawings seem to show this, but should be backed up with a condition.

This application will be seen as an important demonstration of the Council’s attitude to protecting and enhancing the vitality of our High Street, and we look to you to ensure that the best possible scheme is achieved.
Yours faithfully

Carolyn McMillan PhD

February 3, 2012