Friday 26 May 2006 7.42am
I feel like an obsessive, but the Founders Place fight is largely about the conservation area. Lambeth officers were minded to agree (Lambeth Palace
) Conservation area consent to a development that would have required the demolition of every building on the site, including a lovely old Victorian school building, plus, I think, every tree. One astute Planning Applications Committee member asked whether the area would still be considered Conservation area should the development go ahead, given that nothing was to be conserved.
Lambeth does not get more ancient than the oland round Lambeth Palace
, and the arguments for balance and green are particularly strong given the massive densities proposed for both Vauxhall and South Bank/Waterloo. Land values are part of the problem. Developers are much more willing to ask for to much and put up a fight when the rewards are higher.
Interestingly the Lambeth officers at the planning meeting advised Councillors that they had no grounds on which to refuse the Founders Place application despite clear conservation area policies and support from the Planning inspector for having the revised UDP specifically recommend that the buildings on the site be retained.
Councillors seemed to look at each other as if to ask why they had turned out for three meetings and two site visits when there were no grounds for rejecting the application. They then promptly voted to reject it.
I assume that the planning officer's statement was code for the fact that if the rejection goes to appeal Lambeth would not have a water-tight case. Which frankly is unacceptable.
The principle of conservation areas needs protecting and defending. Does Lambeth have anything similar to the Southwark group. Are there any London or national groups who might provide practical support. Any jouuurnalists who might be interested in a story on the sorry state of London's conservation policies. I think we could all do with something more than me ranting on this forum, great though the Forum and the support derived from it has been.