Mixed Reaction from Locals to Hugh Gasworks Development

Concern that local infrastructure including the train station won't cope

A visualisation of the planned buildings on the current gasholder siteA A visualisation of the planned buildings on the current gasholder site. Picture: SGN Mitheridge Ltd

March 29, 2023

Some Wandsworth residents have slammed plans to build more than 600 new flats in tower blocks up to 30 storeys tall after revealing the area is already filled with “empty” developments. People living in the Wandsworth Town are also said their “small train station” will not be able to cope with an influx of users in objections to the proposed revamp of the former Wandsworth Gasworks site. More than 100 objections to the proposal have already been made.

The plans from SGN Mitheridge Ltd, a joint venture partnership between Mitheridge Ltd and Scotia Gas Network, would see 646 housing units built on the site – including a target of 35per cent affordable housing. The site includes the former gasholder and current Calor Gas Centre on Smugglers Way, along with land west of the River Wandle.

The proposals also include new shops, bars, restaurants, workspace, a cinema, live music venue, riverside park and crossings along the River Wandle.

A planning statement says the development would help “complete the transformation of the River Wandle between the Ram Brewery and the River Thames”. It says pre-application advice with council officers, a design review panel, local stakeholders and the Greater London Authority (GLA) has confirmed building heights above 10 storeys are acceptable for the site.

The statement continues, “The applicant [has] adopted a meticulous design-led approach to the redevelopment of the site that responds to the site’s context and delivers a composition of individual buildings, set back from the surrounding road network, and elegantly proportioned taller buildings adjacent to the new public park to mark this important community asset.

“When compared with the existing poor quality of the site and the absolute policy imperative that it should be reused for housing, the case for the scheme is unequivocal.”

It adds, “The proposals also respond to local policy by providing a number of locally important amenities, including new retail units to the frontage of the central road to help animate the space and increase job opportunities.”

But the plans have received 120 objections so far in letters submitted to Wandsworth Council. Local Georgina Clark said, “As a local resident I am concerned by the amount of new commercial property being built on all of these new build sites which are left empty for years.”

She added, “Why are you trying to make a quant [sic] town like Wandsworth Town into Nine Elms with a 30-storey block, it’s ridiculous and hideous. Please consider incorporating a new primary school to the site and a GP, this is what Wandsworth Town area is in desperate need for not more shops and restaurants which no doubt will fail.”

Objector Charlotte Dickins said: “Our house shakes every single day from the loud and heavy lorries that drive past and we have cracks in our walls from constant local building and drilling. Our house is a small old cottage and cannot keep taking this level of nearby construction work.

“Not only that, I do not understand how our local area can support a development of this size. Wandsworth Town is a small train station that is very busy as it is, I am not sure how you expect a huge influx of people to use that service.”

Rhian Bedson, another objector, wrote “the area already has hundreds of empty flats around Riverside Quarter with hundreds more being built” and many retail, food and drink venues that have been “empty for years”. She said there are “no additional amenities being built for the people already living here” and that Wandsworth Town station is already “incredibly overcrowded and working beyond its capacity”.

She said, “More flats will drive more expensive prices – supply/demand. The roads are already incredibly busy around Putney and Wandsworth, especially with Hammersmith Bridge being closed. Building 600 new apartments will make this existing problem significantly worse.”

A further statement with the application says spaces on the development will be tailored to suit businesses and charities – giving them the “best chance of remaining in Wandsworth town centre”.

It adds: “It will ensure that the proposed wider development does not suffer as others have from being a nowhere space at ground level – the buzz, activity and cultural activities prompted by these occupiers will ensure that this development is welcomed by, enjoyed by, and open to all residents of Wandsworth and beyond.”

Wandsworth Council is still accepting comments on the hybrid application and will make a decision in due course.

Charlotte Lillywhite - Local Democracy Reporter