Colliers Wood High Rise Scheme Conflicts With Draft Local Plan

Two tower plan is opposite the "sensitive" Wandle Park location

Watercress Island plan

The double tower block scheme is opposite Wandle Park

Controversial plans for two high rise tower blocks next to the former Brown & Root Tower in Colliers Wood would appear to conflict with the newly-published Draft Merton Local Plan.

Developers Criterion Capital want to build the 26-storey block alongside a 16-storey tower, on land behind the redeveloped Britannia Point.

Their Watercress Island development will provide 266 homes, including affordable housing, as well as flexible public space for cafes and restaurants as well as "collective work from home space".

But the towers would be across the road from the entrance to Wandle Park, which the Draft Local Plan says is a "sensitive" location.

The draft plan, published on November 20 and open for consultation until February 1, says: "Locations that may be sensitive to tall buildings include the historic environments of Wandle Park, Merton Abbey Mills and Merton Priory, where the potential impact on the significance and scale of the historic environment and open spaces should be considered."

It adds: "Development will need to be of a scale, layout and design to minimise harm to the residential amenity of the existing residents in Britannia Point and on Christchurch Road, based on the principles of a family of buildings of varying height, forming a coherent cluster that enhances the wider Colliers Wood area.


"This can then form the basis for a coherent group of buildings that relate well to each other in terms of scale, massing form and architecture. New buildings must…mitigate the potential for uncomfortable wind conditions at ground level, which would particularly affect pedestrians and cyclists."

Watercress Island plans

Watercress Island plans

Local residents and community organisations have already expressed their reservations about the scheme, with the Wandle Valley Forum being the latest to make a formal statement.

The Forum, which works to protect the future of the Wandle Valley, said: "Our initial assessment is that a substantially reduced scale, height and mass of development could be appropriate for the site that is much less dominant than currently proposed and much more sensitive to the needs of the local community and its location in the Wandle Valley."

It has called for a full visual impact anaylsis to ensure light pollution and shadowing of Wandle Park and the River Wandle is avoided. There should also be an assessment of the impact on wildlife, it adds.

An independent visual assesment of the impact of multiple towers should take place, it recommends. This should include enabling a "proper understanding of the cumulative impact of creating a new cluster of towers in a borough where none currently exist".

Other recommendations included an archeological investigation of the site, bearing in mind the "exceptional signifcance" of historic Stane Street which runs by the proposed development.

Local resident David Element says thought needs to be given to the end of the planned buildings' lifespans, bearing in mind the Brown & Root Tower could not be demolished without damaging the Northern Line underneath it.

He is among residents who have expressed a series of reservations about the scheme. David, who is a wildlife photographer, also raises environmental concerns. He points out that the Wandle is now a clean river supporting uncommon species, including critically endangered eels.

The developers' consultation period ended earlier this month, and they promise to consider the feedback before going ahead with formal planning permission.

November 22, 2020