Furtive Launch of 15 Floor Ebury Bridge Project Development

A 15-floor residential & tech college development is being built at Ebury Bridge. No, we didn't know anything about it either...

April 2015 Exhibition dates announced:

Thamesbank Centre, Turpentive Lane, on Wed 22nd April, 4-8pm; Dryburgh Community Hall, Abbots Manor Estate, on Sat 25th April, Noon-4pm, then 28th April, 1.30-5pm.

The details are on an unlabelled PDF at the bottom of the EBCP index page which currently does not mention the public exhibition at all. There is nothing online from any of the project partners (Bouygues, Redrow London, Westminster Uni or Westminster City Council). After the semi-invisible 1st exhibition, we were promised openness, transparency, local press and leaflets. If you’re unhappy about the continuing stealth-mode, please take it up with Jim Atkinson (Bouygues UK) and Tom Harding (WCC). Another development at 84 Eccleston Square has no online presence, so we’ve taken the liberty of putting up the developer’s feedback survey: 84 Eccelston Square Development: Feedback. Please make your views known!

15th Jan 2014 – latest:

The Ebury Bridge Project is being redesigned and a new exhibition will be held, probably in March April 2015. We’ve asked for the developers and their partners to abide by the planning brief and to deliver a credible  consultation process; the full response is at the bottom of this page.

Check out the Ebury Bridge Project website to see details of the previous plans and use their feedback form to tell the developers what you would like changed or improved in their new proposals. You should do this ASAP before they finalise their new plans. There will be an education consultation event to gather ‘views on a range of matters relating to the UTC including admissions, catchment area, school operating hours, curriculum and pathways.’ Note that this is about the UTC only, not the residential half. View the UTC consultation invite sent by Tri-borough. (Thanks to Moy for forwarding the invite). It’s on Tuesday 20th January 2015 at the ThamesBank Centre, Turpentine Lane, London, SW1V 4BD.  You can drop in but it’s only open from 16:00-19:00. And another one just popped up at Fyvie Hall, 309 Regent Street, London, W1B 2HW on 26th January on Eventbrite. None of these have been publicised, either on the Westminster UTC website or Ebury Bridge Project sites, or anywhere else that I can find, so if you know anyone who is interested in the educational aspects of this project, please spread the word.

16th Dec 2014 – update:

Churchill ward Councillor Jason Williams has written to Cabinet Member Councillor Danny Chalkley to express “concern over the time frame for public consultation for the UTC.” We’re not sure how or why this brief, unpublicised exhibition became ‘the public consultation’ but will try to find out. The UTC was discussed at the last FREDA meeting on 2nd Dec where it emerged that only three of the 20 Pimlico association representatives present had received the flyer notifying them about the UTC exhibition. Luckily, details of the exhibition were hurriedly circulated and  a few FREDA members were able to attend. Here’s what the meeting thought about it:

The development will cover 5,000 square metres, covering the present site four times over. Apart from the new college, 60 private flats are envisaged to subsidise the cost of the construction of the new college. The development will be 15 storeys in height, i.e. three-quarters of the height of Glastonbury House nearby. Under the section 106 Agreement, there will be the requirement to build the appropriate amount of social housing elsewhere in Westminster. The provision of 30-39 parking spaces is suggested, when usually you would expect WCC to insist on the provision of at least 70 parking spaces for a development of this size. No exterior playground space has been allotted at ground floor level. Instead, the play area is to be located on a roof terrace, 6 floors up but two interior badminton courts are proposed which would be made available to members of the public. WCC’s 2009 Planning Brief for the site suggested a maximum of 30 flats and a building which would be no higher than Abbots Manor. The meeting concluded that the proposed development was unacceptably dense and was a definite departure from WCC’s Planning Brief. 40 flats on this site was considered to be the absolute maximum that should be permissible. The problem appears to be that WCC owns the land and wants to rush this application through so that the College can open in September 2016. A planning application is expected to be submitted at the end of January.

Ebury Bridge Project
External appearance: Ebury Bridge Centre Project

28th Nov 2014 – Here’s the blurb from the Ebury Bridge Centre website:

Bouygues Development and Redrow London are working in partnership with Westminster City Council, the Sir Simon Milton Foundation, University of Westminster and Network Rail to provide a flagship technical college as well as delivering much needed, high quality new homes within Westminster. This exciting scheme will be a focal point for the local community as well as providing a new gateway into London Victoria.

The scheme is for a 15-storey block on the large site just South of Ebury Bridge and on the West side of Sutherland Street, opposite Kirkstall House and Evesham House. All the upper floors will be residential apartments (projected £900k-950k for a 2-bed) and the UTC will occupy most of the bottom four floors. The UTC seems like a potentially good thing, but there are great concerns about the impact of 60 new apartment properties on the local area. Although the exhibition and previous presentations concentrate almost exclusively on the UTC, what you’re actually getting is a tall residential block with a college at the bottom.  The initial plans have been unveiled and put on show in Pimlico. Unfortunately, they haven’t made the exhibition very public. No press releases to be found, no proud blurbs from developers Bouygues Development and Redrow London, nothing from Westminster Council, Westminster Uni or Network Rail. Leaflets have apparently been delivered to everybody in the local area but we’ve yet to see one. A Google search says ‘No results found for “simon milton” utc architect OR residential OR peabody OR thamesbank OR exhibition‘. There isn’t even an exhibition announcement on the UTC’s own website. It’s worrying for such a prestigious scheme to be flying so far under the radar. We got a private invitation from the PR/lobbying firm acting on behalf of the project. Westminster Council and the UTC project manager were kind enough to present the UTC portion to FREDA back in September 2014 where the educational bits were relatively well received, with serious reservations about the impact of any large residential volume on the local Pimlico community. The last slide in the presentation was titled ‘Key Priorities’ and the top of that list was ‘Engaging local communities and stakeholders’. We think they have failed at the very first hurdle and need to do much better. If you missed the first day of the public unveiling on Thurs there’s another one this Saturday:

Simon Milton Pimlico UTC development public exhibition, Thamesbank Centre, Peabody Estate, Turpentine Lane, SW1V 4BD (it’s just outside the Southern entrance to Turpentine Lane). 10:00 – 14:00 on Saturday 29th November 2014 View the invite (PDF): Simon Milton UTC Invitation

Please have a look and find out how it will affect you and your neighbourhood.

Simon Milton UTC website: Ebury Bridge Project. The newly launched site just has PDFs the six exhibition boards, so I’ve put them together into a single scrollable PDF. The Ebury Bridge Centre site:

Ebury Bridge Centre Project (EBCP) and Simon Milton University Technical College (SMUTC): Response to the November Exhibition at Thamesbank, Pimlico.

Issues of concern about the Nov 2014 exhibition:

  1. The November exhibition was rushed, poorly publicised and badly documented. Invitation flyer drop zones appear to have been rather unorthodox; nearby St George’s Drive, Eccleston Square and Warwick Square were excluded, more distant Churchill Gardens were included. None of the EBCP partners included the event or proposals on their own websites prior to the event itself, and little or nothing has appeared on them subsequently. This level of invisibility seems unusual for what is billed as a ‘flagship’ scheme.
  2. Exhibition content was grossly inadequate. The project was sketched out with such lack of detail as to make it impossible to envision what the project would be like in reality.The EBCP representatives were unable to provide information on: dimensions, volumes, integration into the area, impact report, transport, cycle lanes, access, sunlight issues etc. We were asked to contact EBCP for detailed info, but this proved largely futile.
  3. The proposals sketched in the six display boards show a structure far in excess of the planning brief in height, massing and density. The proposals contravene many items on the planning brief including topology, conservation area status, architectural heritage, affordable housing, provision of family dwellings etc – the list is a long one.
  4. The exhibition and its representatives were unable to make a case for any benefit to the local community and gave the distinct impression that this wasn’t something that had been considered in the rush to get the project started.
  5. EBCP and their architects were unaware of the CS5 cycle lanes being proposed for Pimlico (Sutherland Street option) and of the Nine Elms Bridge scheme, implying a certain lack of interest in the relationship the EBCP might have with its neighbourhood.
  6. There was no clear system for responding to the proposals. The feedback form on the project website is one of the least user-friendly examples to be found and is functionally inadequate. Very few Pimlico residents have been made aware of it.

Requirements for the redesign and second exhibition:

  1. Westminster Council went to a lot of trouble to analyse the site and its relationship with the rest of Pimlico in order to set out an appropriate framework for redevelopment. The redesign should fall within the parameters of the planning brief, especially height, massing, density and integration into its Pimlico home.
  2. Within that brief, every effort should be made to deliver a high quality product that will not only enhance the lives of its inhabitants, but also the neighbourhood around them.
  3. Departures from the planning brief must be documented and justified. The EBCP is the only party with the necessary information and thus must bear the responsibility for highlighting them.
  4. The building should have real, abiding architectural merit. There is no good reason for SMUTC to be housed in a mediocre or compromised building.
  5. There should be some depth to the information provided about the project. The proposals should include enough detail to fully conceptualise the scheme, claims should be backed up with evidence and it should be made clear what is firm and what is provisional.
  6. A case has not been made for the necessity for a residential section on the SMUTC site. The UTC would be better executed without that compromise and is apparently centrally funded to the tune of £11+ million already. If a compelling case can be presented, it would still be counter-productive to degrade the project by mutating it into a residential cash cow.
  7. Detailed impact reports must be provided.
  8. Residential blocks are being considered for the adjacent crescent parcel of land and down the side of the railway tracks. The area just over Ebury Bridge is already being redeveloped with relatively high density. These will certainly have a substantial impact on the whole area and EBCP must carefully analyse the combined impacts and offer solutions to reduce them.
  9. Any public consultations should make genuine efforts to notify local residents about the proposals, upcoming events, and updates to the scheme. Sufficient advance warning must be given to allow people to attend. The events should be publicised online and in local press. If the project isn’t worthy of being proudly broadcast by the project partners themselves then they should really re-examine the whole premise.
  10. There should be a much more proficient public response system. Appropriate channels for feedback should be user-friendly and they must to be adequately publicised. Westminster would be well advised to offer a more effective system for publicising and collecting feedback on the SMUTC and educational aspects, distinct from the project as a whole.

Further Reading & Resources

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