The following letter was sent to Wandsworth BC on 18th January 2015.
Planning Application 2014/6976 re Formula E in Battersea Park
The Friends of Battersea Park have made clear our objections to this proposal on several occasions including in our letters of 15 and 24 September and our submission to the Community Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC) on 3 December. However, we recognise that the Executive Committee of the Council has ratified the recommendation of the OSC on 3 December that racing should be permitted subject to planning consent. Therefore this representation is focussed on recommendations as to conditions that should be imposed by the Planning Committee when considering its position.
The planning application is short on detail in very many respects. Everyone should be clear that there will be enormous disruption in the Park if this goes ahead. The timing of installing the barriers around the track and the nature of those barriers is particularly critical and we ask that the Planning Committee look particularly at this and the risk, in effect, of excluding the public from the centre of the Park during the setting up process.
These are our recommendations:
- We recognise the benefits of some of the work starting early if planning is approved. For instance, we think it would be sensible to carry out the works to re-surface the car parks as well as to widen the Carriage Drives as soon as possible so that they can be completed before the start of the busy season for the Park. We also have no objections to works on the British Genius Site (BGS) taking place over an extended period of time. Outside the BGS, we suggest that any work is suspended over the Easter break.
The body of the planning application re-iterates several times the dates we had understood for the start of build and the end of de-rig (i.e. 15 June to 3 July). Despite that, the Construction Programme indicates work on Barrier & Safety Fencing, Temporary Paddock Structures and Viewing Platforms would begin on 13 June.
Papers for the OSC meeting (Clause 22) and presentations to that Committee had been clear that the construction and de-rig period would be 15 June to 3 July and this was the basis on which the OSC made its decision. We consider it essential that planning approval, if granted, should be consistent with the decisions of the OSC.
In that context we think it particularly important that the penalty clauses for delays in the de-rig are severe so that the organisers are not tempted to accept the penalty clauses rather than pay sufficient overtime to complete on time.
- The Paper for the OSC Meeting (Clause 19) had indicated an endeavour to keep part of the Park open throughout to allow some normal activities to take place. However, Clause 3.13 of the Design, Access and Planning Statement simply says that the Park ‘will be closed’ for part of Friday 26 June and from Saturday 27 June to Tuesday 30 June. Clause 4.23 states:
‘The closure of the Park to users is a necessary part of the process of hosting this event. Every effort has been made to enable some access to park users during this time.’
There is no evidence of ‘effort’ to allow access in the planning documents and the course maps show no potential area for access for normal park users during the four days. Nor is there any clarity about what will happen after the races finish at 5pm and why the public could not be allowed into the Park after, say, 7pm on Saturday and Sunday.
The Planning Committee should ensure that the Event Organisers and the Council live up to their stated aspirations.
- At the OSC, it was made clear by the Event Organisers that as much work as possible would be done at night to minimise disruption to Park users and to minimise road traffic at peak times on already over-crowded roads.
This is not reflected in the Planning Application and the Application should be rejected unless and until maximum night working is reflected in actual plans.
- As we understand it, the Council has agreed with the Heritage Lottery Fund that an independent ‘monitor’ should be appointed by the Council to ensure damage to the Park is identified and promptly rectified. The Friends very much support the appointment of an independent monitor. We were impressed by the work carried out in preparing the Heritage Impact Assessment and recommend that the same consultant is contracted as the monitor. He should be consulted on mitigating measures if minor modifications have to be considered. We would expect his costs to be funded by Formula E.