I have been contacted by many constituents in Gipsy Hill and West Norwood about the planning application by Southwark Metals for a large metal recycling centre on Windsor Grove. I share residents’ concerns about this application and believe that Windsor Grove is an entirely unsuitable site for a large waste facility. I have written to Lambeth Council to object to the development.
My concerns focus on the impact this application would have on traffic and air pollution in the local area. Windsor Grove is a narrow cul-de-sac, bordering a housing estate and visited frequently throughout the day by pedestrians visiting the Royal Mail delivery office to collect post and parcels. The high number of heavy goods vehicles visiting the recycling facility throughout the day would increase risk for pedestrians and cyclists including residents of Windsor Grove Estate entering and leaving their homes.
The application does not take account of the increased stress on the surrounding road network, which already experiences congestion and is not built for the scale of heavy vehicles the application proposes. I am particularly concerned about the potential for reduced road safety for students at Kingswood Primary School and Park Campus. The proposed site borders both schools, based on Gipsy Road. This narrow street already has high levels of traffic, frequent gridlock and road rage incidents, and an increase in heavy goods vehicles using Gipsy Road and Elder Road would increase the risk to children attending school in the area.
The large number of diesel heavy goods vehicles travelling to and from the recycling centre would lead to an unacceptable increase air pollution, presenting a risk to the health of local residents. Air pollution is an urgent public health issue contributing to approximately 9,000 early deaths in London, whilst research has linked poor air quality to increased risk of death from Covid-19. West Norwood already suffers from very poor air quality. This proposal would bring increased levels of toxic air pollution into West Norwood, and into local schools. This is simply unacceptable.
Finally, the development would risk damaging wooded National Rail land which is designated as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation, which Kingswood Primary School has plans, in discussion with Network Rail, to use as a forest school. It is vital in the context of the climate emergency that existing urban habitats continue to receive the highest level of protection and that we take every opportunity to enable children to have access to nature as part of their education. A development which compromises both habitats and the ability of local children to learn from nature should clearly not be given planning permission.
The developers have not demonstrated that they have considered all possible sites. Windsor Grove is a small cul-de-sac, surrounded by schools and in a busy town centre. It is entirely unsuitable for a metals recycling facility and I urge the Council to refuse this application. The local Labour councillors in Thurlow Park, Knight’s Hill and Gipsy Hill wards all agree and we are all making formal objections to the application on behalf of our local community. I strongly encourage anyone with concerns to submit your own objections here.
Photos credit: David Owens
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