Council’s ‘most unpopular plans ever’ scrapped as families crush Lambeth recycling centre bid

By Grainne Cuffe, local democracy reporter

The ‘most unpopular’ plans Lambeth Council has ever seen was unanimously defeated after major push-back from families.

Lambeth planning bosses all voted against plans for a metal recycling centre West Norwood on yesterday evening.

Stating that it would be detrimental to the character of the residential area.  

But developer Urban & Provincial warned it would appeal a refusal and claim costs from the council if successful.

The decision was delayed two weeks ago after hours of debate when the planning committee ran out of time. 

Planning officers had recommended the plans for approval, which were for a 1,915sqm industrial shed for metal recycling, as well as an office building at the end of Windsor Grove.   

Families were fiercely opposed to the plans, describing the site as a “monstrosity” they claimed would put school children at risk of being knocked down and increase “toxic” air pollution. 

More than 5,500 people signed an online petition against the proposals, while the planning application received 2,531 objections and four comments of support. 

One objector said there is “no benefit” for local communities.  Adding: “Only inconvenience, jamming of already congested roads, pollution, and respiratory problems.” 

The street is bordered on one side by a residential estate and a Royal Mail delivery office on the other.   

The proposal, on the site of the former West Norwood Car Breakers, would allow 25,000 tonnes per annum (TPA) of material to be processed, while 78 vehicles would enter and leave the site per day.  

The developer argued that Lambeth “faces a massive shortfall in being able to deal with the waste it produces”, and the centre would make a “significant contribution” to meeting local demand.

Lambeth council officers said at both meetings that the development would have a “negligible” impact on air quality and transport. 

The developer also planned to rehabilitate the nearby Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) by planting trees, installing bird boxes, hedgehog houses, invertebrate boxes, and log piles. 

The site is located behind two schools, Kingswood Primary and Parks Campus.   

Residents spoke against the plans at both meetings, one representing five local groups including the #Scraptheyard campaign opposing the centre.  

Rob Andrew of Norwood Action Group said: “No conditions could make this acceptable.” 

A Royal Mail representative spoke again, reiterating that the site was “unsuitable” for such an increase in vehicles coming into the area.   

Dulwich and West Norwood MP Helen Hayes objected at the first and second meeting, as well as all three Gipsy Hill ward councillors Cllr Matthew Bennett, Cllr Pete Elliott, and Cllr Jane Pickard.  

Cllr Bennett previously said he had never in his 11 years as a councillor seen an application that was “so universally opposed by residents right across the borough”. 

For the developer, Sean Tickle said there were no grounds to refuse the application for transport reasons. 

He said: “[It] has been reviewed by three separate transport consultants, two highway authorities, and two sets of environmental consultants. 

“All of them found it would not cause harm to pedestrian and cycling safety or traffic movement in the area.” 

Mr Tickle said the same about air quality and said the committee “must make a decision based on the planning merits of the case”.  

He said: “The fact that an application is unpopular and has generated significant objection are not grounds for consideration.” 

Lambeth’s planning officer told members on transport, noise, and air quality grounds that his “strong advice would be that we couldn’t support reasons for refusal”.  

But he said members could refuse the application based on “amenity grounds”.  

He added: “Amenity is any element of a neighbourhood that helps to make it attractive or enjoyable for residents. 

“I think there’s a potential ground of adverse impact on the character of Windsor Grove, which would result from the increased transport movements.  

“The reason would be justified on the basis that it would be a less pleasant place for users [of the roads].”

 


 

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