Millfield Road Toilets – Planning
A new planning application has been submitted for the site of the Millfields Road toilet block, at the junction of Millfields and Mildenhall Roads. Two previous applications have been rejected and, in the past, CPNAG has objected to the development on various grounds, along with local residents.
The proposed exterior of this new application, appears much as before in terms of mass and style (see image).
For those wth a view on this, comments can be made on the Council’s website.
It is Planning Application 2013/0492:
“Redundant WC Block Millfields Road Leabridge E5 0RU
Development: Demolition of existing redundant WC block on the corner of Millfields Road and Mildenhall Road, and erection of a 4 storey building to provide 8 residential units (2x 1 bed, 5x 2 bed and 1x 3 bed) with A1, A2, A3, B1 & D1 use on the ground floor and basement.”
Having kept an eye on the application last time, i found that it was refused at appeal for not meeting room size standards. The planning inspectorate actually commended the design (which incidentally i really like), but said that the flats lacked the space to “provide adequate accommodation”.
From what i can see, the owner has reduced the number and increased the size of the flats for this application, so hopefully the council will be able to approve the scheme and we can get rid of that blue hoarding!
“…we can get rid of that blue hoarding!” And also introduce some much needed quality modern architecture to Clapton. The sooner this happens the better.
I agree, quality modern architecture. Clapton square, for example was ruined by that pastiche Georgian multi occupation development.
Sadly, there is yet more pastiche proposed for Clapton Square – but still time to oppose it;
Such a shame to see a fine Georgian square belittled by mimicry.
I now note that Nick Perry of Clapton Conservation Area Advisory Committee has submitted the following objection;
“We considered this application at a meeting of the Clapton CAAC on Thursday 18 April 2013 and we object to the proposal as it would harm the Clapton Pond Conservation Area without providing significant public benefit.
This application seeks to impose an unimaginative distraction at the most visually open focal point at the heart of the “historic core of this conservation area” [appeal para 3].
In the face of the appeal (2176342 and 2171673), it seems hard to resist recommending approval for this revised scheme, but in doing so we must consider what the appeal did NOT consider – the wider street scene and urban plan.
Both the applicant and the Inspector recognise the slightly awkward scale and mass of the (extant and mooted) single storey block which “does not fit in well alongside the tall listed townhouses or the Victorian terraces and 1930s Regal House nearby” [appeal para 4]. However the applicant misunderstands why that might be, in claiming “The effect of having a low level building creates a negative space on the corner which draws attention to the backs of the buildings on Millfields Road.” [D&A para 3.1.1].
However they (seemingly unwittingly) stumble upon the problem three sentences on: “The site goes largely unnoticed from Millfields Road, until you get close to it.”
Indeed. The ‘negative’ space is a considered deign that recognises the street scene from all angles – in particular the interaction of Mildenhall and Millfields roads with Lower Clapton Road. It’s more than a mere glimpse of a couple of mediocre terraces from a busy main road; it’s a view that is clear on plan and has been a key connection beween the urban pace Lower Clapton road and the sedate feel of the two residental terraces. The views both in and out of the residental roads significantly enhance the setting of the landscaped Clapton Pond and listed Pond House, by pointing them out.
The plot of land, which was pointedly vacant when the terraces and listed buildings were established, has had an unsettled development history. The lack of logevity of each building phase serves to illustrate the purpose of the original open plot rather neatly.
In all cases, the developments have neen too wide. And this proposal seeks to compound the problem with a distracting design and space filling mass.
Any development which seeks to step beyond the triangle created by continuing the lines of the front of the Mildenhall terrace and their garden walls, will disrupt that designed view of terraces which we are supposed to see from way across Lower Clapton Road. A view that is granted by the curve of 152-154-156 Lower Clapton Road and it’s plaza-like footpath. And, of course, the Pond itself.
None of which is to say that redevelopment of the site should be dismissed entirely. Indeed the overall scale of the development might be acceptable if it’s massing were (crucially) less horizontal more dramatically vertical. Such a ‘landmark’ design would need to be carefully considered but if sited sensitively and designed elegantly and modestly, could provide a development on the apex site which Victorian engineering and aesthetics precluded but which in a modern context would respect the visibiliity in and out of the terraces that was clearly a part of the original urban plan and has been enjoyed ever since.
Whilst paras 6 and 7 of the appeal seem to support the overall design they only do so with regard to their immediate neigbours [“the new building would be respectful of its neighbours” – para 6] and specifically the listed buildings ‘group’. The appeal does not properly consider the wider street scape – in particular, from further south on Lower Clapton Road, or the intended longer views from Lower Clapton Road down Mildenhall and Millfields roads – views which would be utterly destroyed by this chubby mass of distracting faff.
Chair, Clapton CAAC ”
If Nick Perry had bothered to visit the site recently, he’d note that the view down Mildenhall Rd is now dominated by the post-modernist/pastiche terrace currently under construction which protrudes far beyond the Victorian building line.
Incidentally, this was granted permission last month – which apparently CPNAG deems a “Sad day for Clapton Pond area”. Although I don’t know how/why it can say that just because some of its committee members favour pastiche.
This is vast improvement on the last application, but it will soon look outdated, like most of the other ‘contemporary’ buildings going up in Hackney.
Any new building will be a massive shame for the Clapton Pond area. Planners should be encouraging the reconditioning of existing buildings, especially in a conservation area. The toilet block would make an ideal setting for a cafe or deli with outside seating and landscaping. In my view this would be a much more sustainable approach and would help further improve the pond area as a desirable destination for local residents to congregate and encourage new business to the area.
Efforts would be better put into saving the toilet block.
As a head chef working in Central London but growing up in hackney, I was looking at the public toilets site for a restaurant.
I understand that housing is always needed, but the new building proposal is fugley and will outdate very quickly.
I’m also sad to hear that people want contemporary buildings around the pond.
Thanks for Pondlife which has given me access to this forum. I hate those new houses which are so out of keeping with their surroundings. The toilet building should be restored for the community with a garden around not flats and certainly not that ugly lump out of all proportion! There is really not enough local consultation of everyone in the neighbourhood. I have lived here nearly 40 years and haven’t seen this information before. My fault, probably, but Pondlife has helped. Stop those vile flats! How? Thanks, Liz
Thanks for being in touch. Good to know that the newsletter is reaching people who aren’t aware of us – it may be you saw previous editions, some years ago, given the time you have been here.
Given you’ve also contacted me offline, I’ll pick up the conversation with you there.
Do you know if there’s been any further development with this? I’m, like others, keen to explore the use of this building. I’d absolutely love to turn it into a small cafe with a beautiful garden. I think the shape and location would really compliment this. And it’s the one thing that is missing from the pond area! It would create so much vibrancy in the area. If Palm 2 own the space, do you think they’re keen to explore other ideas? I’d love to have a chat to them about it.
I can only think that this would bring a real positive energy around the area and really compliment the community we live in.
If you have any pointers, please do let me know. I’m keen to explore options with them soon.