Objectionable developments on Clapham Common

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We have objected to plans to use part of Clapham Common, Lambeth, for filming Sky One’s ‘Got to Dance’.  The society was founded in 1865 initially to protect the London commons from development, and we consider that this current proposal needs special common-land consent as well as planning permission.  We are particularly angry that the development has gone ahead before either consent has been obtained.

Domes on Clapham Common.


The Ministry of Housing and Local Government (Greater London Parks and Open Spaces) Act 1967 sets out the requirement to obtain consent from the Secretary of State for Environment for buildings, structures and permanent enclosures on the common.

The planning application is for three dome structures on the common, with fencing, portacabins and other paraphernalia.

We are concerned that the applicants, Princess Productions, and the council appear to have ignored the requirement to obtain consent from the Secretary of State for Environment under the 1967 Act, and to consult the Open Spaces Society, which is also a legal requirement.  There is an exemption for applications which the council considers to be recreational, but this is commercial not recreational.  The fact that it is temporary is irrelevant so far as the commons legislation is concerned.

Our members the Clapham Society and Friends of Clapham Common have also objected.  The planning application is to be considered on Tuesday 11 September.

Says Kate Ashbrook, our general secretary: ‘Clapham Common is a vital and much-loved green lung of south London.  It is outrageous that this development should have gone ahead without the necessary permissions.  It makes a mockery of planning and common-land laws.  We call on Lambeth and Wandsworth Councils, rather than acquiescing to this, to take immediate enforcement action to restore the common to its former glory.’

We have also objected to the nine-month extension of the Nike sports building on Clapham Common.  The building was granted planning consent until 9 September but has not been removed. Instead Nike has sought consent to retain the building until 31 May 2013.

We consider the Nike building to be an ugly intrusion on the common and argue that the applicant’s claim that it is ‘exciting and vibrant’ is ‘pure spin’.  The building is a commercial venture for promoting sportswear, which is out of keeping with the landscape and public use of the common.

The applicant does not even acknowledge that the building is on common land, a public open space for the use and enjoyment of the local population and visitors.  The development clearly conflicts with that use.  The building needs consent from the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs under the 1967 Act.  Regrettably Nike seems unaware of this important law, and the council has apparently not informed it of this requirement.

This building is hardly ‘temporary’ as is alleged.  We believe that the council should refuse to allow it to remain on the common and should tell Nike to remove it at once.  Failing that, the council must seek the environment secretary’s consent for the works—an application which we shall oppose.

The Clapham Society and Friends of Clapham Common have objected to this application too.

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