Planning for people who live in Southwark now

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Friday 1 August 2014 4.11pm
I thought it might be a good idea to start a separate thread about planning, as there have been quite a few randomish comments under a number of different topics.

Planning underpins and is, at the same time, an important part of pretty much every other policy, from environment, health, transport, education etc. Southwark seems to have been getting it very wrong for quite a while now.

We (People's Republic of Southwark) did a huge audit of all planning decisions council made in 2013 (series of 'The planning point' articles) and it's a really grim read as the overall finding is that the resident is wrong by default, as in vast majority of cases, majority of those who commented on planning application disagreed with council's recommendations.

Developers have teams of paid people working on planning proposals and on marketing those to local authorities. People who live in Southwark are not 'professional residents' (ie we don't go home to be something else after 5pm) but are simply always on the receiving end of many inexplicable, often inappropriate planning decisions (made by the council on our behalf. Allegedly).

What needs to change:
- the idea that the developer is always right (which certainly seems to be the case in Southwark)
- applying existing planning policies (as opposed to allowing developers to get away with not providing any affordable/social housing when it suits them)
- applying planning policies because this is all we who have to live with the consequences can use to argue against inappropriate proposals
- listening to people who live here, even if they are angry or not as articulate and not dismiss attempts to find things out as 'complaints'

If, as I think Head of DM said, planning department really wants to rebuild the bridges with the residents, then it might be worth going out on council estates, community (not community councils, as this is for show mostly) group meetings and actually asking people what would work better for them?
Friday 1 August 2014 4.44pm
pros
Not sure if you've seen this article in the guardian which highlights Redbridge Councils apparent inability to meaningfully consult with the community re: planning. They have decided apparently to vest all planning power in the hands of their officers as they are widely 'educated'. :)
The Guardian, Local Planning
Friday 1 August 2014 4.50pm
i hadn't, thanks for the link!
Saturday 2 August 2014 9.26am
londonbridge69 wrote:
pros
Not sure if you've seen this article in the guardian which highlights Redbridge Councils apparent inability to meaningfully consult with the community re: planning. They have decided apparently to vest all planning power in the hands of their officers as they are widely 'educated'. :)
The Guardian, Local Planning

Elected members should never give up their role as decision takers. Training of elected members is widely avallable, and it is the responsibility of the professional planning staff to make sure that members are properly trained and confident in taking what are often very difficult decisions. Local knowledge is an important aspect of the decision taking process. Whilst it is true that officers have delegated authority for taking decisions on 95% of applications nationally, the decision on key, strategic or controversial developments should be taken by elected members.
Sunday 3 August 2014 10.15am
Really very interested to read this thread. And indeed I agree that planning is a minefield...planning committees are far too random, (it kind of depends on who shows up) and there is a serious shortage of planning officers which means that it often takes ages and ages for applications to be heard. And there is far too much jiggery pokery behind the scenes...so I will watch this space, because the decision making in this area leaves a great deal to be desired.
Sunday 3 August 2014 11.48am
Did anyone truly beleive in the localism idea? I certainly didn't. It came across as a mere shuffling of paperwork under the guise of 'listening to the people' as a political stance.

Hasn't the reality simply meant that what is considered too complex (read expensive) to take on board is simply ignored in the planning process?
Sunday 3 August 2014 7.54pm
Sorry Pros but I just don't agree with your thesis at all - I am more than happy with the way the planning decisions are going - especially over the past four years - and there defintely is a very clear strategy behind this which is to maximise money coming into the council to build new council homes when their funding is being squeezed by central government.

I just can't see what's wrong with planning decisions that are allowing new council homes to be built?

Another thing which you need to take into account is that the commercial life of our area is vital for jobs - the Council is requiring the developers to use local labour and train local kids - these planning decisions are essential to keep the borough moving and open for business.

I just think it's important that you appreciate these opposite points of view before embarking on your initiative.

Do you not think the recent landslide local elections in Southwark were a vindication of recent planning decisions?
Sunday 3 August 2014 8.20pm
hm, not sure what you mean by 'initiative we're embarking on'?

just so there's no confusion, here's part one of the planning points thing (there's 15, 16 of them in total, forgot to include all the links into that first part)
http://www.peoplesrepublicofsouthwark.co.uk/hold-news/news/3334-the-planning-points
Monday 4 August 2014 4.14am
Floodplain wrote:
Sorry Pros but I just don't agree with your thesis at all - I am more than happy with the way the planning decisions are going - especially over the past four years - and there defintely is a very clear strategy behind this which is to maximise money coming into the council to build new council homes when their funding is being squeezed by central government.
I just can't see what's wrong with planning decisions that are allowing new council homes to be built?

Another thing which you need to take into account is that the commercial life of our area is vital for jobs - the Council is requiring the developers to use local labour and train local kids - these planning decisions are essential to keep the borough moving and open for business.

I just think it's important that you appreciate these opposite points of view before embarking on your initiative.

Do you not think the recent landslide local elections in Southwark were a vindication of recent planning decisions?

Oh really? You could have fooled me!
Monday 4 August 2014 7.06am
pros, I welcome this thread.
Floodplain, there are things happening in SE1 that I know people oppose, and their views are ignored.
My own home was threatened with demolition, shaded in on the SPD. I knew nothing about planning, and I am finding out all I can about it on a local and on a wider political level. It is clear to me that money does all the talking, however many meetings people may have.
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