New council building on Queens Road – facts and FAQs

23 March 2018

Why does the council need a new building on Queens Road?

Our homelessness service and services for vulnerable children are currently located in six different buildings across the borough, many of which are old and dated. The new office at Queens Road will be an opportunity to provide much better accommodation for these vital front-line services in a well connected town centre location. The new 3 storey building will reduce costs and free up sites for important uses like new council homes.

How are we consulting with local people?

The council has carried out in-depth consultation with residents in advance of us finalising our plans which will be submitted to the council’s independent planning committee later this year:

  • In January we wrote to 1,625 residents who live within a 250m radius of the Queens Road site, asking for their views on our plans. We held a consultation meeting for residents in the direct vicinity and invited anyone with an interest to a public exhibition, and wrote to local stakeholders and community groups who have previously expressed an interest in planning locally. We also published all the consultation materials on our website for anyone who couldn’t make it along to the exhibition.

  • We then updated the plans to reflect residents’ comments and consulted on a second phase of the plans in February.

  • The plans are now being carefully reconsidered in light of all the comments, and we will consult on a third version later this spring.

  • This is all before we submit a planning application, which local people will also be able to comment on.

What is currently on the site?

Until recently the building on the site was leased to a charity – the Camden Society – who ran a day centre for people with learning disabilities on the site. The council worked with the charity and all the service users, and consulted with them, to ensure their needs could be met by high-quality services at other centres in the borough, including the council-run purpose built Southwark Resource Centre, and the Camden Society-run Riverside day centre. All the service users have now moved on, and the day centre has closed.

There were various reasons for this decision which included the poor state of repair of the building, the changing nature of and demand for these services and the need to ensure we make the most of any council-owned land in the borough to help us meet our commitment to providing high quality services to all our residents.

Have you considered the impact on bats and other wildlife of your plans?

An ecological appraisal, arboricultrural assessment and bat roosting assessment have been carried out on the site and found that no habitats of principal importance were present within the site boundaries.

The independent ’The Ecology Consultancy' carried out a survey of the site to check for bats, as part of the bat roosting assessment and did not record any bats emerging from the building or signs of bats roosting in the buildings. The consultants made a number of recommendations as to how the new building could be enhanced to encourage bat habitats and these have been fed in to our proposals (such as green roofs, bat boxes/tubes and sensitive lighting, etc.). 

What will the impact be on transport locally? Some people are concerned about overcrowding at Queens Road station

We have carefully considered the impact of our plans on public transport and will continue to do so as part of the planning process.  Indeed its excellent transport links is one of the reasons Queens Road is such a good place to have a council building, making it easily accessible to most residents.

People coming to and from the new building in rush hour will generally be travelling against the main flow and so we do not anticipate this being an issue. There are many bus routes that cover the area (which we anticipate will be the primary means of residents visiting the proposed building) and there are cycle routes with well-marked lanes along Queens Road. We are including double the number of secure cycle bays required under current planning policy and shower facilities onsite to encourage members of staff to travel by bike.  Our plans are in line with both the Mayor’s strategy to maximise developments around transport hubs, and the council’s commitment to reduce car use and the pollution it creates.

What will the impact be on neighbouring properties?

Early in the design process, angle projections for sunlight and daylight were applied to all habitable room windows facing the site. This study suggested that four storeys could be acceptable on part of the site. However, these designs were eventually discarded in favour of a three-storey approach to reduce the impact on neighbours and the townscape in general. The current scheme is designed so that no part of the proposal conflicts with a line drawn at 25 degrees from the centre of any window serving a habitable room in a nearby home. Building Research Establishment (BRE) guidance suggests that the proposed building is unlikely to have a substantial effect on the diffuse skylight enjoyed by the existing occupants.

We have also taken measures to minimise any overlooking of adjoining properties, using trees and options around screen windows or using obscured glazing.

However, we know some local residents have some concerns regarding the new building overlooking their gardens or homes and blocking out light, and we have taken their views into account, and we are revising the scheme to take this in to account. We are listening to residents and continuing to work on the design.

Page last updated: 23 March 2018