Out with the Old... Network Rail tell businesses to vacate Atlantic Road arches

Discussion in 'Brixton' started by :-D, Feb 4, 2015.

  1. mafalda

    mafalda New Member

    Whether it's possible or sensible to keep units open depends on the kind of work that's being done and it seems the repairs there are to do with the structure of the bridge not the internal condition of the units. And they've still had to hoard off an area for storage of materials; I expect the businesses who usually have a view of the canal are affected by its position. A cursory google finds various tripadvisor complaints from tourists about the bridge being covered in scaffold at various points of time over the past year or so, and it looks like the works have been going on since the spring of 2015 and were supposed to have finished several months ago. Plus they are being funded through advertising revenue from billboards on the scaffolding apparently. Maybe Network Rail should have got in some luxury fashion brands to advertise on the hoardings; I'm sure that would have gone down well.

    I'm not sure I'd go to Italy to seek out exemplars of construction work carried out efficiently in transparent co-ordination between local government and private interests.

    Building works are slow and disruptive and there's only so much you can do to make them otherwise. If the hoarding around the arches sits there for a long time with nothing going on behind them then of course I agree that's no good. As discussed above, it seemed to me reasonable to assume that the hoardings have gone up to allow the site clearance to start whilst planning conditions are discharged prior to the main work starting. But we are told by an anonymous source, with access to information we aren't allowed to know about directly, that something more sinister is going on, so we'll just have to wait and see what the truth is.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 30, 2017
  2. editor

    editor Taffus Maximus

  3. editor

    editor Taffus Maximus

  4. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    What a total cock up.

    One might be forgiven for thinking that Lambeth have been facilitating NR plans for Brixton. If it had not been for mafalda taking this up the hoardings would stay put.

    They still might.NR may just ignore Lambeth Highways.
  5. editor

    editor Taffus Maximus

  6. editor

    editor Taffus Maximus

  7. teuchter

    teuchter je suis teuchter

    These buzz articles keep making reference to statements made by a "planning officer" but we are never given a name or source. They don't seem to me to be consistent with the planning conditions. It's clear that NR have to comply with all sorts of conditions before they start on the development. The definition of "development" in planning legislation (I just checked) generally excludes interior work that doesn't affect outward appearance. It doesn't seem to me that NR's legal people will be worrying very much about them getting on with internal clearance and surveys etc. I may be wrong of course.

    I don't quite get the fire risk comments either. It's hardly an unusual situation for building work to be going on next door to an occupied unit. Normal precautions would apply.
  8. mafalda

    mafalda New Member

    Teuchter - I have read the Decision Notice, the planning application in detail, (it takes a little time), and all of the recent articles and would advise that the Planning Officer who made the comments about Condition 4, Construction and Environment Management Plan, is shown within the "Further Information" section on the Lambeth Planning Portal, listed as the case officer for this development.

    According to the articles that a have been written, this Planning Officer stated that in reference to this condition that “no development shall commence before this condition is discharged and this includes site preparation and clearance”. That does seem pretty straightforward to me.

    The way I understood the fire risk, or any other risk for that matter, during any enabling works or the main development itself, is because the viaduct is now effectively split into five distinct and separate areas, with three of these areas in the possession of Network Rail and two in possession of the remaining traders, but there is no movement possible in between these five sections, no common fire alarm, no procedures in place for emergency evacuation and no management of the entire site under a uniform and safe set of agreed actions for both the contractors and the remaining tenants and their customers.

    It would therefore be incredibly difficult to safely coordinate any emergency procedure if either the contractors or tenants created a serious hazard that required evacuation of the premises and the attendance of emergency vehicles. I have worked on shared sites, that include complex arrangements that currently exist within the viaduct and I can assure you that operations such as the enabling works proposed by Network Rail would not be permitted within such a sensitive and shared site. There is simply too much at risk.

    This is presumably why the Planning Officer attached Condition 4, CEMP, and qualified this by including site clearance and preparation within its scope.
    Brixton Hatter, Casaubon and editor like this.
  9. teuchter

    teuchter je suis teuchter

    What articles?

    The kind of thing you are describing is what might be applied in a situation where building work is going on in part of a building or complex where other uses are continuing in other parts. Where access to the building site part crosses over with access to the rest of the building, where escape routes might be shared, etc.

    That's not the situation here. As far as I understand it's essentially a bunch of individual units each of which has its own access and escape route. If fire breaks out in one of the hoarded units, it doesn't block escape from any of the still operating units because they all have their access directly to the street. It wouldn't be a substantially different situation from one before any of the units were evicted; if a fire broke out in one arch, it would not prevent the exit from an adjacent arch.

    If one of the existing tenants were to carry out their on internal fitout or clearance works, they wouldn't be required to install any kind of interlinked fire alarm system for their neighbours.

    I think you might be letting your imagination run away with you a bit on the fire stuff.
  10. mafalda

    mafalda New Member

    Teuchter, The articles that are referred to are the same buzz articles you referred to in your earlier post. Here are the links - they are quite good reading and very informative:

    Brixton Arches: Network Rail set to break Lambeth council’s planning conditions
    Brixton Arches redevelopment: Lambeth Council and Network Rail – Just Good Friends?
    Network Rail and the Brixton and Herne Hill arches: it’s a shambles
    Network Rail and Brixton Viaduct redevelopment – it’s going to be disruptive and chaotic
    Brixton Arches: Network Rail told to move their hoardings back off the pavement

    In connection with the Planning Officer's comments, I can advise you that I have had sight of the email sent by the Planning Officer where is it stated, quite clearly, in response to a query over the scope of Condition 4, that "no development shall commence before this condition is discharged and this includes site preparation and clearance"

    Regarding the safety aspect of managing a site during any kind of works, (enabling, main development, etc), with mixed occupancy, (including contractors, workers and the general public), the level of responsibility increases exponentially on the contractors to ensure a safe environment, which is why things like CEMP's are required in such a sensitive location and projects like this one, especially with the general public in close proximity. It is a simple and effective approach that is designed to maintain safety for everyone.

    For Network Rail to commence unidentified enabling works within internal spaces, especially at the widest part of the viaduct, (for example the religious premises located in the centre of the viaduct and enclosed by other spaces), would not be safe unless the viaduct was fully under the management and control of the contractors. It is not.

    Further reading of the planning documents show this was always the approach intended by the applicants as the entire planning process was conducted and approved with the pre-requisite of full and vacant possession of the entire viaduct. If they had achieved this and removed all of the tenants, then a full site compound would have been set up, contractor access throughout the viaduct would be possible and a uniform and comprehensive set of safety procedures would be in place. The necessary checks and documentation would also have been approved by the necessary authorities.

    Instead, Network Rail are now approaching the project in an entirely different way, effectively attempting to commence works without wanting to assess and discharge the essential safety responsibilities that rest with them. If Network Rail are permitted to commence these enabling works without completing a CEMP, this will also mean that statutory consultees, such as the emergency services, will not be advised of these operations and the increased risks occurring. More importantly no measures regarding emergency access or site management will be in place, which is clearly a problem on Atlantic Road. Once again, within the CEMP the contractors are obliged to discuss these matters with all relevant parties, (TfL, Police, Ambulance & Fire Services, etc), and make the necessary preparations, which may include road restrictions, suspensions of bus services, etc.

    I appreciate that to the uninitiated this all seems excessive and difficult, but health and safety regulations and other obligations that relate to safety within building operations have been developed from the experiences of the past and the horrors of disasters and avoidable accidents and incidents that can occur anywhere and at anytime.

    Your own analysis of the risk is very cavalier and similar to that of Network Rail. Of course imagination is the exact reason why health and safety is so critical, the mere thought of an incident in an enclosed area, with passengers above the viaduct, tenants and the general public within the viaduct and contractor operating in any one of three separate, enclosed and interlinked premises is something that needs to be avoided absolutely.
  11. teuchter

    teuchter je suis teuchter

    So, when you said "according to the articles that have been written" what you meant was: according to the other articles that yo have written yourself?

    Here's a plan of the arches, and I've made my best stab at drawing where the hoardings are. I think it's correct.

    Screen Shot 2017-02-08 at 19.56.19.jpg

    I don't see any still-open units whose access or escape routes are affected by the hoarded-off units. The units with double sided access still have double sided access, and the single units still have access/escape exactly as before the hoarding was put up. The internal space you mention - the church - was accessed via the book shop. Are you saying the church is somehow still in use? I don't think so.

    The hoarded-off and still-open sections are not interlinked with each other.

    I don't see any significant fire risks that wouldn't already have existed prior to the hoardings being put up, assuming that the work going on in the hoarded units is non-structural and internal only. The idea that some kind of interlinked alarm system would normally be required in this scenario seems unlikely to me.

    If we are talking fire risk then the plans make clear that the previously existing arrangements were far from ideal. The church being a case in point. I'd be very surprised you'd get that layout past building regs - a gathering place (which would have a high occupancy rate) in an inner room whose only escape route seems to be through the bookshop? What would happen if a fire started in the bookshop whilst a service was going on? The labyrinthine layouts of some of the other one-ended units provoke some raised eyebrows too.

    Another version showing how the closed-off sections are not interlinked with the still-open sections: Screen Shot 2017-02-08 at 20.14.24.jpg
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2017
    mrs quoad likes this.
  12. mafalda

    mafalda New Member


    Many thanks for crediting me with those other articles, but I would not be able to match the quality of output of that well informed but anonymous person.

    Your analysis shows you're sort of getting it, so well done, but your cavalier approach to H&S remains the problem, as it does for Network Rail. The plans you have done are nearly accurate, but missing some important detail, however they do help illustrate the issue so thanks for putting them up.

    Once Network Rail start works within the premises, (the red hatched areas), the whole equation changes. They will take full responsibility for the safety of entire viaduct, station, occupied arches and everyone the surrounding area. All additional risks will be introduced by them through the (unidentified) operations they will be carrying out within the separate sections of the viaduct.

    The existing conditions, systems and plans are important but immaterial, there has to be a comprehensive safety plan for the entire viaduct that is able to anticipate the likelihood of any incidents arising from the works they try to carry out anywhere within the viaduct.

    Network Rail fully expected to have full and vacant possession of the viaduct, (read their planning documents), but it just didn't happen and they haven't got a satisfactory plan in place. It's a mess and others are paying for the dreadful and unprofessional way that Network Rail have acted throughout the process.

    If Network Rail had achieved full possession of the viaduct, then a fully managed and enclosed site with excellent access and no complicating factors such as children, prams, disabled people, mobility scooters, animals, etc, would exist. Then the risks evaporate to manageable levels and the enabling works and main development can go ahead.

    The Planning Officer is likely to have anticipated this situation and as such ensured that a CEMP was required for the entire project and that "no development shall commence before this condition is discharged and this includes site preparation and clearance".
    editor likes this.
  13. teuchter

    teuchter je suis teuchter

    mafalda I had assumed you were the author of the articles when you posted the above reply to my initial comments on the first one. Were you apologising on behalf of someone else?
  14. mafalda

    mafalda New Member

    Teuchter - It's refreshing to note you have been distracted from a defenceless and unceasing support of Network Rail and their unique brand of absentee landlord, shabby and deceitful negotiation mixed in with dangerous commercial and operational practises. The cod apology above shouldn't concern you.
  15. teuchter

    teuchter je suis teuchter

    I was wondering how long it would take before I was accused of being a Network Rail stooge.

    I am not defending Network Rail - I am defending fact based reporting. You don't help the cause by writing stuff that can't be substantiated. People look at these articles and decide it's just a bunch of conspiracy nuts making a fuss about nothing.

    In no way would I support Network Rail ignoring planning conditions. And maybe they are trying to skate around them but I don't see any evidence at the moment. You say:

    But that's not what it says in the planning conditions. You claim it's what a planning officer has written subsequently, but there's no source for this other than what someone else has written without giving a source. You and the Buzz correspondent who may or may not be the same person as you apparently have some kind of insider information that can't be revealed. This combined with your tone of patronising superiority starts ringing those conspiraloon bells for me I'm afraid.

    Even if a planning officer *has* written that, I'm fairly sure that it's what is written in the planning conditions that counts.

    If NR are doing internal clearance and investigatory work then I don't think they are doing anything dodgy. I might be wrong but I'm not convinced by what you write. If they are starting on structural or external works then absolutely yes they should be called out on it.
  16. Rushy

    Rushy AKA some / certain posters

    Teuchter, the uninitiated cavalier!:D

    There is a lot of DCLG guidance about conditions, e.g. they have to be reasonable, necessary and enforceable. In any case, they can't bind works which are outside of the permission. NR could reasonably argue that the prep was all being done to facilitate essential inspection, maintenance and repairs which don't require permission, rather than signifying commencement of the redevelopment project.

    IME a planning objection only comes down to arguments about health and safety in desperation. Planning is a slow cumbersome beast. If the points about H&S are valid then report these breaches to the HSE who are better equipped than planning to recognise them and react quickly. But the HSE will probably not react very well if they feel that they are being used as a pawn. They have quite a lot of genuine complaints and safety threats to deal with.

    I can't help but raise an eyebrow at Network Rail being held to account by Buzz for their "reluctance to accept the expertise and authority of Lambeth’s Planning Officer." :facepalm:
  17. teuchter

    teuchter je suis teuchter

    The other thing is that now they have permission, isn't it in everyone's interest just to let them get on with it? The more time is taken up with arguments about hoardings and so on, the longer it is until the work is done with and the affected streets can have active businesses on them again.

    That said, it does seem that NR have messed up somewhat in failing to get everyone out at the same time. If that was their intention.

    Although there are conflicting comments about what "the community" wants. One minute people are saying that the work should have been phased so as to not have all units inactive at the same time. The next, there are complaints that NR are not complying with permission if they are starting work on some units before all the others are evicted.
  18. mafalda

    mafalda New Member

    Here is a reply I made to Ben who had cut and pasted some of Teuchter's comments elsewhere. I have now read the earlier threads:

    Sorry about the “patronising superiority”, I fully acknowledge that I can often lapse this way, which is just habit from direct involvement with dozens of large projects over 3 decades and the constant requirement for management, analysis, clarity, safety, detail, accountability and fact, (see, there I go again).

    In terms of the planning conditions and the clarification from the Planning Officer,“no development shall commence before this condition is discharged and this includes site preparation and clearance”, please take my word that this is a fully audited document and part of an ongoing line of query directly to Lambeth.

    Once again, you are right to query this, but hopefully you would be happy to agree its scope would include unidentified enabling works, (providing the document exists).

    There is no conspiracy, maybe a small gang or just a few interested and reasonably well informed locals and the close examination and scrutiny of the proposals being made by a major landlord in the area, who has been pretty much absent for the last 30-40+ years, certainly in my memory, and chosen 2016 as the right time to make a mark on Brixton, starting by evicting everyone from the viaduct.

    Further Comments
    In terms of the conditions and the difference with Condition 4, CEMP, and all the other pre-commencement conditions, they include the clarification "(other than site preparation or arch clearance)", but Condition 4 didn't, which prompted the clarification and response that has been quoted that "no development shall commence before this condition is discharged and this includes site preparation and clearance".

    On the enabling works, I think Condition 4, CEMP, has been applied because of the nature and sensitivity of the site in the middle of Brixton and under a station, however it is even more important now because tenants, customers and the general public have full access in what was meant to be a sealed off building site.

    If Network Rail had achieved what was intended within their planning documentation, the delivery of the project depended entirely on full and vacant possession, this was anticipated but not achieved. The contractors are now faced with a wholly different site, fractured between various occupied tenants and with three separate areas, and they want to start enabling works, which could include partial demolitions, asbestos clearance, trial pits, works on services and utilities, etc, in very old arches with shared ventilation, drainage and services throughout the viaduct.

    Without adhering to planning conditions, this means the Principal Contractor will not have to prepare a Construction Phase Plan or complete the kind of safety planning, installation of temporary services and agreement over procedures with the rest of the tenants that would be required within a site with mixed occupancy between contractors and the general public. The only risks being added to the viaduct will be from the operations of the contractors, it may be small but the complexities of the split site multiply this and the consequences of anything happening would be terrible.

    Unfortunately due to the lack of detail in the planning application, there was no discussion over the actual delivery of the project itself. This may have deflected attention from the major impact that a project of this size within the centre of Brixton would have, not only on the community as a whole, but perhaps the very existence of the external market and other shops on Brixton Station Road who are just about hanging on.

    I am not sure whether this has been discussed at other times, but there was also a single line devoted to the construction site traffic within the planning documents and this indicated that Atlantic Road and the existing loading bays near the High Street would be used to service the entire site, including deliveries and waste collections. This may also include HGV's. Given the existing congestion and local traffic, I guess the likelihood is that this arrangement will have to be changed to Brixton Station Road and Popes Road, which does not bode well for Pop Brixton, the Recreation Centre and the remaining businesses and shops.

    If Network Rail had decided to phase the development, the whole trauma of the last 12 months would have been reduced. The nonsensical early evictions could have been managed a lot better and consistent, open and productive negotiations could have occurred with the rest of the tenants. The building sites would have been reduced in scale, risks contained and less disruption to the entire area would have been the result. I think this kind of approach would have been welcomed by all parts of the community and if the current planning proposals do become impossible to deliver, due to sitting tenants, perhaps this is one way that Network Rail could approach the task down the line.

    Who knows, they could even get some of the vacated arches that are still viable back open and bring some life back to Brixton in the meantime until the development can actually start in earnest.

  19. teuchter

    teuchter je suis teuchter

    What does "fully audited document" mean exactly?

    You're not responding to my and others' points, just repeating the same thing over.

    And it doesn't make any sense to say that there's something fundamentally dangerous about doing the work without posession of the full site, as is the current scenario, then to say it should have been phased.

    As far as I can see there's nothing to stop them doing internal work, that wouldn't need planning permission anyway, at present. They have permission for the hoardings. It would be odd for Lambeth to rescind that permission.

    To get on with the more substantial work yes they will need to discharge the conditions including the one about a CEMP. If they don't have full posession then I would expect the CEMP would reflect this and as long as it was satisfactory they would have satisfied the condition. I guess Lambeth could reject it saying that the only acceptable CEMP would be one where all work was being carried out in the full extent of the site. Whether that would stand up legally I don't know but the only reasonable justification I can see for that would be that it would minimise the period of disruption. I don't see it being rejected on the basis that it's fundamentally unsafe to carry out the work without full posession.
  20. teuchter

    teuchter je suis teuchter

    Also...this is not some major engineering project like rebuilding London Bridge station. It's just fixing up and fitting out some railway arches. There's no indication of major structural work is there? I think your claimed dangers are out of proportion with what the project actually involves.
  21. mafalda

    mafalda New Member

    If you want to write some specific queries I will have a stab at answering if you want.

    Safety, is a tricky area and of course open to interpretation by whoever is assessing them. I accept that and if you have a good knowledge of this area and still consider the risks from any kind of works in that location as reasonable or even negligible then that's fine. I personally wouldn't.

    NR may well get to start their enabling works, (within about 60% of the site), and they might somehow be able to develop a live CEMP to work around the tenants that remain, which will be very hard, or more realistically they will need to try and negotiate the tenants out of the viaduct in order to get full possession.

    I agree this is not London Bridge and in all reality it is not really a major development but it is not straightforward either. The problems are all about the location, the safe management of the site and the railway above as well as the efficient operation of the town. The tenants within the viaduct are an added complication that was not expected.

    I do have direct experience of a similar situation with a mixed occupation site between a school and contractors. As you might imagine, everyone worked assiduously on safety and comprehensive (albeit temporary) safety systems were installed. Any kind of internal works, (enabling/main construction), were strictly controlled and closely managed. On the first day of the Easter Holiday that year, a fire caused by the contractor's electrician working on site consumed and gutted the building with the roof collapsing in a matter of minutes. Fortunately with the holidays, the school was shut, but these works wouldn't have been occurring if the school had been occupied under the agreements we had discussed and put in place. Perhaps this is not a like-for-like example, but I hope this explains my concerns just a little.

    Personally, I hope that Network rail are obliged to discharge Condition 4 before any works start, even enabling works. This would give me a little more confidence in the whole operation and place some essential safeguards on the contractor and may reduce any temptation to cut corners and try to make up time on the contract. I think this is especially relevant at a time when our local councils are financially up against the wall with huge pressures all departments, including planning and enforcement.
  22. Rushy

    Rushy AKA some / certain posters

    Only if they were being carried out as part of the works permitted by the planning permission. As I said before, if, for example, the site preparation works are associated with investigations, maintenance and repairs, then these do not fall under the scope of the planning permission and the pre condition does not apply.

    As I said, if you are genuinely concerned about the H&S, contact the HSE and let us know how you get on. They will be able to tackle genuine safety issues regardless of any conditions or permissions.
  23. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    My general impression of what the community wanted was that NR to not do this project at all.They liked it the way it was.

    mafalda It's correct that NR have been told to move the hoardings back?
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  24. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    Taking some photos of the hoardings last week. Whilst doing this someone came up to complaining that NR were gentrifying the area. It's a common complaint I here from people. There is a lot of anger out there at what NR are doing.
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  25. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

  26. friendofdorothy

    friendofdorothy it is so much worse than Thatcherism now

    This a private conversation or can anyone join in? I don't know about the technicalities of planning permission or the legality of all NR actions to date. In my opinion even if what NR is doing is legal and / or above board - it still doesn't make it right.

    I hate NR closing down so many popular shops all at once against the wishes of so many locals/cutomers/traders. It makes the very middle of Brixton look dead, it is having a detrimental knock on effect for all the market traders and those fucking Lambeth hoardings are just an insult to this injury. The sooner someone defaces improves their cheery fucking institutional directives the better.
    sealion, Gramsci and editor like this.
  27. CH1

    CH1 "Red Guard"(NLYL)

    What I don't understand is this: the hoardings list a load of businesses and say they're still here.

    But Café Max isn't to name but one.

    I could have done with a nice refreshing £1 cup of coffee this lunchtime on a freezing stint on the Brixton Society stall right outside that cafe - which is according to the word on the street now permanently closed.

    PS was the drinks held Craft Beer on Wednesday? I had a peek about 8 pm and couldn't see anyone so adjourned to the Beehive which had an edgy white working class violent atmosphere for some reason. Punk at the Academy?
    Gramsci likes this.
  28. Rushy

    Rushy AKA some / certain posters

    So what would you like? The planning has been agreed. The shops have mostly been shut. We all seem to agree that the dead area is having a detrimental effect on remaining shops and market traders. Is it really worth playing the H&S card to further delay matters?

    People are pissed off and I can see the appeal of being a thorn in NR's side. And what a great article Buzz could churn out! But who is really going to bear the cost if the arches remain boarded up arches for even longer than they might otherwise?
  29. editor

    editor Taffus Maximus

    I doubt if that ridiculous Brixton Pillars campaign has had any positive effect at all on those businesses struggling because of Network Rail's 'dead zone.'

    I note that the bookshop has taken to sticking its own custom sign on top of the hoardings in Station Road, as well as writing instructions on the existing billboards. Desperate times indeed.
    Jimbeau and Gramsci like this.
  30. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    The remaining shopkeepers taking legal action are also a thorn in NRs side. Do you blame them as well for holding up NR?
    friendofdorothy and editor like this.

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