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Payday loan shop: community council decision could be overturned

The decision-making process on the controversial planning application for a payday loan shop on Tower Bridge Road may have to be re-run because of the proposed abolition of Bermondsey Community Council.

Bermondsey Community Council last month voted unanimously to refuse planning permission for The Money Shop's proposal to turn a former amusement arcade in Tower Bridge Road into the latest branch of the nationwide payday loan chain.

However, it emerged this week that the process may have to be rerun if the detailed reasons for rejecting the application cannot be confirmed before Wednesday 23 May when a meeting of the full council is expected to strip Southwark's community councils of their power to decide local planning applications.

Councillors at last Wednesday's final scheduled meeting of Bermondsey Community Council queried why the draft wording of a formal decision notice setting out their reasons for vetoing the payday loan shop had not been presented to them for final approval.

Planning lawyer Nicky Bradbury told councillors that The Money Shop has submitted new information to the council which must be considered before a final decision is made.

"The chair was notified about it and it has not been possible to bring [the application] back to this meeting because it needs further deliberation," she said.

Ms Bradbury explained that, unless another meeting of Bermondsey Community Council is called as a matter of urgency, the final decision will fall to one of the new planning sub-committees to be formed of councillors from across the borough, rather than the panel of councillors representing wards local to the site of the proposed payday loan shop.

"If the [new information] ... could change members' decision then it is something that has to be brought back to committee," said the lawyer.

She added: "As there will be a new committee, the whole thing will have to be redetermined."

Cllr Graham Neale, vice-chair of Bermondsey Community Council, said: "Either myself or Cllr Manchester will try to convene an emergency ad-hoc meeting."

Labour's Cllr Claire Hickson, who represents Chaucer ward which includes part of the western side of Tower Bridge Road, told the London SE1 website: "Having campaigned to get this decision to community council and spoken against it at the last meeting, I am disappointed to hear that the decision to refuse was not confirmed in the minutes as expected and that we may now need to have a further meeting.

"We will continue to campaign to stop this payday loan shop from going ahead. I have been working with businesses on Tower Bridge Road over recent weeks to pull together plans to promote businesses on this high street.

"As I argued at the last meeting, a payday loan shop would send the wrong message about the future of this area and that is why we don't want to see it go ahead."

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