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£40m blazing row
Friday, 10 August 2012
OPPONENTS of plans to redevelop the former London Fire Brigade HQ into expensive flats have said they would “fight tooth and nail” against a planning appeal.
The London Fire Brigade, and developers Native Land, want to build the 265 new flats as well as a new fire station on the site of Vauxhall’s Grade II listed Eight Albert Embankment Fire Station.
It would comprise several blocks, some as high as 15 storeys, and raise up to £40million from the sale of the building for the fire authority.
The bottom floors would be taken up by a new fire station, while the flats would occupy the higher floors.
Planning permission was rejected in February amid concerns about the effect on residents of the Whitgift Estate, which is directly behind the proposed development.
The fire brigade and the developers have now lodged a planning appeal – to the anger of Whitgift Tenants’ and Residents’ Association (TRA) and Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey.
In an internal email, the brigade’s head of communications Richard Stokoe said: “£40million is not a sum to be sniffed at and the coms [communications] are important to get right to help with the appeal.”
The project has enraged residents who believe that it is an overdevelopment of the site and that the fire authority is putting profits ahead of the concerns of people who live nearby.
Whitgift TRA committee member George Turner said that, by contesting the decision, the fire brigade was “treating the public with utter contempt.”
He added: “Claims that this application has anything to do with regeneration are complete rubbish.”
Mr Turner said the flats would be out of the price range of ordinary people and reserved only for “millionaires”.
Ms Hoey has pledged to help fight the appeal. She said: “The fire brigade is a public body and it has paid no attention to the wishes of residents.
“The authority and the developers only want to maximise profits and we will make every effort to ensure that the appeal is blocked.”
The London Fire Authority, which runs the fire brigade, has denied the claims. A fire brigade spokesman said: “The fire authority is fully committed to finding a solution to developing the site at Albert Embankment that works for all parties.
“This means balancing the concerns of local residents with the need for the brigade to realise the full value of the property.
“The fire authority is sitting on an empty building potentially worth tens of millions of pounds – money that could be spent improving the fire service that keeps all Londoners safe.”
All content © of South London Press unless stated otherwise.
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Sir Ray Tindle
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