Tuesday 15 November 2005 8.41am
This is becomming a bit of a Sarah only post....some encouragement would be brilliant especially as the proposals are a real shocker!
The good news is that the local MP, Kate Hoey
, is on side and plans to come along to the Planning meeting. She is normally very supportive of the Hospital, but says that greedy developers are greedy developers whoever they are. (Not an exact quote, but that was the gist. I was pretty stunned by the fact that my MP was phoning me take it all in.)
The truth is that we are all expected to pay a huge cost for very little extra provision for our local hospital.
I can't quite remember what the developer is called. It used to be the hospital's charitable foundation, but now St Thomas' is a foundation hospital they have had to change their name. They are independent of each other. I tend to suspect that in trying to get a package together, the leaders of the whateveritis have got carried away with themselves and lost track of the bigger picture. The hospital is an important stakeholder in the area, and most people are supportive of the idea of accomodation for staff etc. However they are not the only stakeholder and they should respect residents interests as well.
This time round they have not got a developer on board, and are seeking the planning permission on their own. I assume that they want to get together an obviously profitable package in order to encourage a private sector partner to come forward.
It was pretty clear that noone will build flats incredibly close to huge trees. Residents would not be able to use their balconies for fear that Tufty the squirrel might bite them on the nose. (It is surprising they have no gone the whole hog and asked to build tree houses.) My guess is that with permission in hand and a developer on board, they would be back to the Planning Committee to say that since the trees are going to die anyway can they chop them down.
Local Councillors have an automatic right to speak at planning meetings:
and the local MP is:
Councillors and MPs act when it is clear that an issue is of general concern to local people. Where the park stands has been open space since the Ethelred the Unready's sister sold it to the Monks of Rochester, over a Millennium ago. 150 years ago the Metropolitan Public Gardens Association was formed in the first instance to ensure that inner city children continued to have access to the Archbishops garden as it was then, and Gladstone was enlisted to the cause, which was also supported by Octavia Hill, who played a huge role in helping improve the lives of the poor in our area. (The Red Cross Garden
was refurbished with the support of the Octavia Hill Society, and David Bellamy planted some Octavia Hill variety roses in Archbishops earlier in the year.) The Friends of Archbishops Park, with the strong support of people from the forum, succcessfully lobbied for the 100 year lease to be renewed.
We still need green and calm. Not views of expensive flats and their balconies. Especially as so few of us have gardens. The idea that this need, and the integrity of the land, is sacrificed so that the hospital can have 20 additional flats is awful. In a conservation area, with English Heritage actively considering whether the park should appear on its register of historic parks and gardens.
Rant over. But we only have till Thursday, so get going......