It was MOVED, SECONDED and RESOLVED that the application was approved subject to the conditions and informatives set out in the report.
3.1. The proposed application was for a Sustainable Gardening Zone, including demolition of existing structures and the construction of two new glass houses with external covered area in the nursery hub, paved terrace, paths and landscaping for the Winter Garden, paving and planting for Community wellbeing garden, new cafe, toilet block, store building and play area within old boating lake to Nature Explorers Zone, interpretation panels and entrance gate and ramp on the nature trail; external works to the Natural History Gallery to include new roof coverings, louvres to eastern windows; enlargement of western plant enclosure; plant enclosure on west side of gallery; ductwork penetrations, guardrail's to east elevation, new fencing and gates and other internal and external alterations to the elevations at Horniman Museum and Gardens, 100 London Road SE23.
3.2. It was the Officer recommendation to approve the application. The Presenting Officer highlighted that the site is in the Forest Hill conservation area and is a Grade II statutorily listed heritage asset.
3.3. Officers were satisfied the proposed development would not have negative impact. Nature rail will improve accessibility and allow for more exploration. The developments to the Sustainable gardening zone would further enhance the area and provide several opportunities for community engagement. The public would also benefit from accessibility, community activities, environmental sustainability and multi-cultural activities and this would outweigh the less than substantial harm.
3.4. The key planning considerations were: principle of development, urban design and impact heritage assets; impact on adjoining properties; transport; sustainable development; and natural environment subject to the conditions outlined in the report. Officers were satisfied that all of these considerations would not cause any substantial harm and were acceptable.
3.5. It was asked if the toilets would be accessible as long as the gardens were open to which the officer confirmed they would be. The question of the use of Horniman drive for construction traffic was also raised. The officer responded that the highways officers have reviewed the plan and raised concerns of use of Horniman Drive. As a result, they requested that only London Road, Honor Oak Park and Westwood Park be used for vehicular access. The conditions outlined in the report includes the restriction.
3.6. It was also asked if Noise impact to neighbours had been considered. The officer responded that the area is quiet but all things considered it is a park. The adventure zone and café are open during the same hours as the park so there would be no substantial noise impact outside of park noise during the operational hours. There also is a maximum separation distance of 80m and the environmental protection teams review outlines that they were overall satisfied.
3.7. It was asked if the new developed zones would create more urbanisation and be too modern for the conservation area. The officer responded that no green space would be reused, and the developments are hidden away from main park. The applicant team had explored different options in terms of design and any impact has been compensated because of additional facilities.
3.8. The Applicant was invited to speak. Their main points were: the project is the outcome of a master planning exercise undertaken before the pandemic to resolve several challenges. The visitor numbers have increased significantly since 2001. The facilities were inadequate and there was a lot of congestion.
3.9. The museum is London’s only museum where you can see nature and culture together. The projects were designed to improve entrance facilities and encourage people to spread themselves over the site as a whole and engaging people in more nature. It is also the aim to engage a more ethnically and socially diverse audience.
3.10. The strength of the project had meant that 90% of funding has been secured. The applicant stated they are happy to engage directly or as a group if there are still concerns about the development. In terms of noise levels, they had employed an additional noise impact assessment and it was found to be not detrimental to nearby residents. In terms of increased footfall, it is likely more people will visit the trail- but the aim of the project is not to primarily increase the number of visitors but to diversify the range and spread them around more. It is estimated there would be 250 more visits per day. This is not considered to have an appreciable impact.
3.11. It was asked by Members that the applicant confirm that in changes to outdoor areas would not result in a reduction in space that is freely accessible to public, to which the applicant confirm that the space would still be freely accessible. It was also asked why there were no revised proposals put forward regarding how the architecturual character was going to be preserved. The applicant responded that cases outline in the report are to be retained, but slightly reconfigured to make space for wheelchair users. The few that are not able to be retained will be donated to other galleries. The proposal to remove the balustrade cases is because they are inaccessible in size and are not original to the gallery.
3.12. It was asked if the applicant was confident that all construction traffic can be managed. The applicant responded that they would want to discuss that as part of the conditions. There is a safety concern about traffic turning into Horniman Drive off from the South Circular.
3.13. The objector was invited to speak. They stated that they are a resident from Horniman Drive just outside the park gates. Their main concern was the serious impact caused by traffic turning into Horniman Drive. There are traffic problems during the working week and during events which cause problems with turning movements and access. They stated that they believe construction traffic should come off A205 through the main gate which can be managed by banksmen. There is also significant air pollution from heavy vehicles as well as dust and smell, which is an issue for nearby residents. He stated that the main objection was about vehicle access.
3.14. It was the Officer perspective that they had reviewed the anticipated movements of vehicles on and around the site and that the most obvious entry point was from the south circular. He stated that the condition is worded that the Applicant must submit details about how the development was constructed post approval, should Members approve the application. The Applicant would have to explain how the development would be constructed which would be reviewed by officers. The applicant may choose to consult residents before submission. An Informative could be included to discuss with residents before submitting final details.
3.15. The wording in Condition 3 subsection H outlined the roads around the site which should be used. The wording does not require size of construction vehicles, as well as times of use. It was agreed that subsection C.2 would include the size of construction vehicles. It was also agreed that an informative would be included if application approved, to discuss the plan with residents.
It was MOVED, SECONDED and RESOLVED to approve the application, subject to amended conditions and added informative.