I thought it was time for a new thread.
With the last application rejected, it all seems to start again.
The developers will need to decide whether to appeal or submit new plans. They are suggesting that they may simply sell the land, though it is more likely that they will appeal. This would then lead to some sort of review led by a planning inspector, in about 6 - 8 months.
For anyone who is interested in helping, the immediate priority will be to ensure, at the AGM of the Friends of Archbishops Park, that through adopting 2 or 3 key resolutions, the group has a clear remit to collect, coordinate and articulate community concerns through the rest of the planning process.
The AGM will be held on 13 June. The constitution, oddly, seems only to require the Chair or Secretary of the group to give three weeks notice to members of when the meeting will be, but not where or at what time. I am sure we will find out. Equally oddly they are stipulating that people need to be members at least three weeks prior to the meeting in order to vote, though I and others have been unable to find this in the Constitution. Again I think this can be resolved and the normal community practice of allowing people to join on the night before the meeting starts will be resumed.
If anyone enjoys this sort of game it does look as 13 June will be a key diary date. (Thus allowing others to sit at the back and simply focus on the aims of the group which are about protecting and preserving the park and associated conservation area.) Better still if you are a lawyer and prepared to have a look at the, pretty standard, constitution, that would be great. The current Committee appear to have more lawyers than a judicial review, yet a few of us have sat down and tried to make sense of what is happening and feel we are reading a different set of rules.
More importantly it would be great if anyone who is concerned about this development...or, equally, would like to see any investment money put into a cafe. It might also be prudent to join the group before 30 May, so you can vote to support some basic resolutions. I am happy to email the membership form.
We would also like to find people willing to stand for the Committee. For five years the group was pretty low key and good natured and we got a lot done. However all the founder members have now been invited to stand down or are simply not invited to meetings, and it really is not much fun. The only qualifications are to be a member of the group, and to be nominated two weeks in advance. Ideally Committee members would be regular users of the park and be reasonably sensible. Again if you are interested do let me know. Arguing the case for conservation and green against unrestrained development over the next year should be quite interesting.
On the Founders Place application itself, I think the whole thing would not have ended up like this if only the developers had properly consulted and listened. Most of the issues could and should have been resolved years ago.
- the fate of the long-term tenants, who were moved into their flats in 1951 after their homes were demolished to make way for St Thomas' Hospital
. Not a planning issue, but local elected representives would were clearly unhappy that the future of a reasonably vulnerable group still appeared up in the air.
- tree issues. Goodness knows why the application when first submitted involved building effectively into a magnificent row of 100 year old trees in one of Lambeth's nicest parks. Given the south facing windows on the proposed buildings will essentially touch the trees there is still every chance that come the first sunny spring day the reflection from the windows will scorch new shoots and leaves. Plus new residents are bound to lobby for sunlight and views.
- conservation issues. Half the site is conservation area yet the proposals include demolishing the two old buildings on the site as well as felling most if not all the trees. Giving rise to the question of whether there is anything left to conserve. This is probably the crunch item in that Ken's London Plan envisages higher density, especially in the Waterloo area, yet calls for conservation, biodiversity and green. Given the huge and high buildings planning for both the South Bank and Vauxhall, there is a case for having a sort of mini green/historic belt (the Lambeth Palace
conservation area) in between. Current planning policies seem to agree, with the conservation guidence accepting some new development by saying it must be sympathetic to the conservation area aims of protecting the setting of the Park.
- build issues. The Planning Applications Committee were clearly concerned about the density of the buildings and how close they were to each other. This again is a subject where Planning Committees will need to balance London Plan density aspirations with genuine concerns about what the buildings will be like to live in.
- Planning Gain/Section 106. The outstanding issue was that amount that would go into the Park and how it would be spent. I am not sure if I really understand why there is a problem here. We have spent the last few years drawing up a management plan based on wide community consultation, in part because we knew this development was coming up. Most people want a cafe with safe toilets, and last year £7,000 was raised to look at the feasibility of running a cafe providing supported employment to young people with learning difficulties, on one of three possible brownfield sites. But, though the money is supposed to benefit users of the park and compensate for the loss of park expansion, it looks as if the developers want to control the spending of this money. So no cafe, but instead new entrances, a (expensive to hire?) football pitch and maybe even a second pitch.
Thank you to everyone who has helped so far.