Interview: Seema Manchanda from Wandsworth Council

Fri 12th April 2013, 4:10 pm

Sitematch London catches up with Seema Manchanda, assistant director of planning and environmental services at the London Borough of Wandsworth.

What is your role at the council? Responsibilities, duties, etc? 

I am the assistant director of planning and environmental Services at Wandsworth, a role which covers planning, strategic transport, building control and environmental health. Lists aren't very interesting, but when you look at the projects we work on there is always something interesting going on from planning discussions in Putney to ensuring older people are not forced to take on building works by rogue traders, from regenerating housing estates in Clapham Junction to improving air quality across the borough.

If an investor or developer is looking for development sites in Wandsworth, what types for sites are available? Who owns them? What type of development is Wandsworth looking for? 

Wandsworth is a very diverse borough covering Putney, Roehampton, Tooting, Balham, Wandsworth Town, Battersea and Nine Elms. The range of projects is also extensive from household renovations to school developments and major mixed use schemes.

Why should an investor/developer invest in Wandsworth? 

Wandsworth has a great mix of lively town centres with good schools, green parks, a diverse heritage and cultural offer and low council tax. The population is young and highly qualified. As a borough there has always been encouragement for those developers with high quality schemes and most schemes are built out relative quickly after planning consent is achieved and sales have been strong in the borough.   

What is Wandsworth doing to make the borough more attractive to investors/developers? 

Wandsworth is known for delivering high quality value for money services and it works hard to ensure the environment is well managed and that change is delivered in a positive way for the borough. We are investing resources to ensure the transport system keeps improving together with TfL and Network Rail, there is a school expansion programme underway and master planning work will soon commence to support the regeneration of the Roehampton and Winstanley estates.    

Which key developments are currently in the pipeline? Are there any sites that will be marketed soon? 

The council provides information on any sites it is selling on this website http://www.wandsworthopportunities.co.uk/ and other sites also come up through third party landowners and I think there will be more opportunities in Nine Elms emerging in the next few years. Anyone interested in a site can get pre-application advice from the planning service if they want a clear steer on their ideas. 

Could you give an update on the Nine Elms regeneration programme? Are there any opportunities in the pipeline that could be of interest to developers? 

Nine Elms has progressed incredibly rapidly and in the last two years a significant number of schemes have achieved either full or outline consent including Battersea Power Station, Riverlight, the US Embassy, Embassy Gardens, RMG Nine Elms Parkside, Market Towers, Marco Polo House and New Covent Garden Market.  Overall just under 12,000 units of residential, a flagship embassy and a whole new town centres development have been consented on the Wandsworth side  of this regeneration area. Key landscape improvements in Nine Elms will include an improved riverside walk and the linear park which will provide 5 ha of new park space for local people.  

One of the keys to Nine Elms has been how all the stakeholders have worked together to ensure the area develops a co-ordinated, attractive, modern new quarter for London. This is critical because many of the key projects that hold the area together run across multiple landholdings - the park, the district heating system, the technology infrastructure and the Northern Line extension. This is also the case for less tangible aspects like culture.  It is really important for this joint working approach to continue and get stronger as the area is developed. We must also ensure that new investors buy into the existing activity and participate in shaping these areas into cohesive, attractive part of the capital. (www.nineelmslondon.com)

Could you provide an update on the Wandsworth Town Centre regeneration project, and the opportunities for developers?

Several major development projects are currently underway across the town centre  including the Sainsbury's scheme on Garratt Lane, Southside Shopping Centre redevelopment, Wandsworth Business Village, Lyon House, Buckhold Road and Battersea Reach. Together these projects will see a series of old industrial sites transformed with homes, public squares, shopping parades and new pedestrian links between the high street and the ever popular King George’s Park. New plans for the historic Ram Brewery on Wandsworth High Street have now been submitted to Wandsworth Council which would see the site opened up to the public and its heritage buildings restored.

Visit Wandsworth's borough profile for more information about the borough, including community infrastructure levy details, contact details for senior council officers and links to relevant planning policy documents. The information is only accesible to Sitematch London members. Join Sitematch London to gain access to the restricted content. 

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