Wednesday 2 February 2005 6.13am
Its all part of the planning game. The developer asks for more than they think they can get away with. It is up to the community to protest that such plans are not in the interests of the area, and hope that the Local Authority will protect. However if they do the developer can go to appeal, to Ken and then on to John Prescott.
And they can always submit a new planning application at any stage. Eg the hotel on Albert Embankment
is nearly completed, but has now asked for permission for an extra six stories. At the time there was real public unhappiness because part of the hotel is on green space (ALbert Embankment Gardens) which is now "leased" to the developer. (The developer promised us that the "community" would still be welcome to picnic there, and even some members of Lambeth Parks are tempted.....though by the time the hotel is finished I suspect not enough of us will remember, or indeed care.)
The main problem being that throughout this process 'the community' remains unresourced and dependent on volunteer activity and money.
I don't know if the developer plans are anywhere on the internet and their 'newsletter' obviously fails to highlight the fact that some of the trees will have to go, how high the buildings will be, and perhaps, that a couple of corners of the park will have to be lost. But it does give some indication of the extent that the development will overshadow what currently feels like a really private piece of green. (The largest park in SE1.)
The current consultation is being done by the developers. Planners like them to test local views before they submit plans. If enough people participate, email etc they may be persuaded to revise them before they submit a planning application. If they don't we have to go through the same process and object to the planning applicaiton and to every stage thereafter.
A similar thing needs to be done with local plans (Unitary Development plans, and Local Planning Frameworks). Again a difficult and technical process, but again it looks as if a couple of corners of the park are being 'unzoned'. (One for Rabbie - the some of the Stangate Triangle replacement land seems to have dropped off - so far I have had to provide Lambeth with four copies of the objection, plus protest in two public meetings and confirm that I want to appear at the planning tribunal before my objections have been acknowledged. Apparently they were misfiled .)
Part of the problem with this one is that the hospital Foundation is the developer. St Thomas' is a powerful local stakeholder. This may give us more locus to get them to take a more considered approach, but they are also very focussed on the money they can get to flow into hospital facilities. And they will argue that this money constitutes public gain as well, which therefore compensates us for the loss of green.
If anyone is concerned it is worth emailing the developers planning consultants email@example.com. To make sure concerns are heard I would also copy the local ward councellor firstname.lastname@example.org . We have not been able to consult park users, but I am almost certain that people will not want to see the trees go or be chopped in any way, whilst the green space lobby will be unhappy if, as the plans suggest, that we are losing bit of park.
We as a group need help.....it is such hard work. And, as we all know this is only one of a large number of development in the area. In my street alone last year we had three phone mast applications, one of which went to appeal and another was 'retrospective', whilst friends who live in Lower Marsh
said they had many more. Yet the Government is keen to speed up and modernise the planning process......
Early morning rant over.