Berkeley Homes new planning application for Sopwith Way depots – my objections
I object in the strongest possible terms to this planning application by Berkeley Homes. I have a number of valid grounds on which to base my objection, which I believe will be shared by many of the long-suffering residents of Chelsea Bridge Wharf and in particular those residents in properties facing Sopwith Way. These include the level of noise and vibration, the inability of BH to control its contractors, dishonest claims about existing levels of traffic on Sopwith Way and the fact that BH has no genuine need to use these depots.
Noise, vibration, pollution
Berkeley Homes propose to continue to use heavy -engined diesel forklift truck vehicles, as well as standard HGVs / vans to access the Sopwith Way depots, only a few meters from residents’ homes. The forklift trick vehicles in particular create a level of noise and vibration which I can only compare to a tank – it really is on that level of noise and can be felt and heard all down Sopwith Way. Berkeley Homes claim they will reduce the level of noise from reversing sirens but the white noise’ sirens are not a meaningful improvement on these Even if these vehicles would in theory be confined to the two depots neatest VISTA the level of noise would still be completely unacceptable to most residents in Sopwith way. The numerous objections to BH’s previous application or Sopwith Way depots show the enormous harm and distress caused to residents by the use of the depots in 2016 and the current application does not significantly differ from that previous application in my view. I have no confidence at all that BH would actually confine the vehicles to the first two depots for reasons that I detail below.
Out of control contractors
On BHs’ own admission (to me) they cannot control their contractors, particularly Elliot Thomas logistics. From April to December 2016, I was in almost daily contact with Berkeley Homes regarding the behaviour of their contractors. This ranged from working outside of agreed hours, working outside of agreed locations, excessive noise, a large number of HGVs from VISTA being parked outside my window, HGVs overnighting in Sopwith Way with drivers inside (the latter was a matter for Rendall & Rittner who refused to deal with it). On one occasion I was threatened with physical assault by a BH contractor (Elliot Thomas logistics) when I tried to take photographs outside the VISTA site.- I made a formal complaint to BH but after a long delay, no meaningful action was taken. I have no confidence at all that BH will be able to ensure compliance with any condition of the planning permission to do with using forklift trucks only at certain locations or times, or in terms of ensuring professional behaviour generally from its contractors who are quite literally out of BH’s control.
Lack of respect for residents
BH first started using the depots in Sopwith Way in April 2016 without any consultation with residents and without planning permission. This created 9 months of hell for residents and, even after BH were forced to withdraw their planning application and had been instructed to clear their materials from the depots, they continued to use them and I believe that the applicant (Mr Travis Crawford) deliberately misled the council about this continued use. To start another planning application only a few weeks after BH were forced to quit the depots (which WBC found it necessary to enforce through the personal attendance on site of a planning officer on 21st December 2016) is an insult to all residents here and shows a failure to understand the level of anger and unhappiness amongst residents caused by BH’s behaviour throughout 2016.
Case for use of the depots
BH were finally forced out of the depots on 21st December 2016 as mentioned above. Since then, work has continued as normal at VISTA as far as I am aware so clearly they found another storage ‘solution’. I am very unclear why they cannot continue with that solution. I suspect the answer is that Sopwith Way depots re slightly more convenient and less expensive for BH as compared to other solutions. I do not see why this would outweigh the right of residents to a reasonable level of peace and quiet.
The current number of vehicle movements along Sopwith Way
Traffic on Sopwith Way needs to be massively reduced, not increased.
BH state in their application that ‘’The maximum number of vehicles movements on a typical weekday varies between 25-60 vehicles between the hours of 08:00-16:30 which includes the vehicle movements from Battersea Power Station. A maximum of 60 vehicles on an average weekday can be accommodated for on the service road. The first four arches are required to load/ unload and store building material’’
This is actually a dishonest claim. The number of vehicle movements along Sopwith Way on an average day is 200-300 (over any 24 hour period). I can say this with some certainty as I usually work at home and my flat faces directly onto Sopwith Way. Since the VISTA works began, and since (some time later) BH made the arbitrary decision to open up Sopwith Way as a route between Grosvenor Arch and Queenstown Road, there has been a massive increase in traffic. This consists of HGV traffic for VISTA wither turning around reversing or temporarily parking, as well as some vehicles related to services at Chelsea Bridge Wharf, vehicle deliveries to the BH Vista project office on Sopwith Way and a large amount of traffic from Queenstown Road which is either lost or looking for somewhere to turn or seeing temporary parking. More recently, BH made the decision (with no resident consultation) to open up the road to traffic for the Battersea Power Station Development Company (BPDSC) entrance at Grosvenor Arch. This was supposedly just traffic involved with work on the arches bear Grosvenor Arch but the volume of traffic to Grosvenor Arch increases day by day and its is clear that the road is being used for general access and traffic to the BPS site (although there is no through vehicle access as I understand it, people and good can still be dropped off at Grosvenor Arch).
In addition to that BPDSC have decided (from January 2017) to run a minibus service at 10 minuet intervals form Sopwith Way to Sloane Square and the BPSDC site. I have video evidence of this vehicle (and many others associated with BPSDC) doing 30mph + down Sopwith Way; exceeding the 5mph speed limit by a factor of 2 -34 x is the norm on Sopwith Way. There is now no time of day or night when the road is of traffic for more than a few minutes which has had serous consequences for my sleep, ability to work during the day and the quality of the air. Sopwith Way was never intended for this volume of traffic and it is outrageous that BH have seriously damaged the quality of life for residents without any consultation and propose to subject residents to further harm during 2017. Residents will not stand for it and I anticipate major conflict between BH and residents if this planning application is granted. I can only urge WBC to reject this application.