Before boroughpaul sparks a war from Media Studies students with his comments, it seems to me that we need a mixture of housing within any locality, and the questions that we need to ask are "what variety of people and buildings do we need, in any given community, to create a society that works for a very wide vision of common good?"
So a good answer would suggest that we'd need some student housing, some sheltered housing, some council allocated housing, some part-buy/rent housing, some private rental housing, and some private housing for sale. That housing would then be used for singles, couples, young professionals, young trades people, families, people whose families had flown the nest and older people. That means any housing would need to have a variety of different numbers of rooms.
Once we'd established that we wanted to create a society for a large mixture of people, we'd then need to talk about amenities. If we have families, is the nursery, primary and secondary school provision in the area adequate? What sort of hospital facilities do we need? Is there space in this particular area for commercial/light industrial units where our tradespeople could work, or are people expected to commute? Are the people in the private housing (eg. some older professionals) happy to be buying in an area that will contain a genuine diversity of people? Are the people in the retirement homes happy retiring to, say, Elephant and Castle? Are there enough green spaces for our mixed communities to enjoy? Where do all of these people go to do their shopping? If car space is at a premium, how do we ensure that families and disabled people are given the first choices re. parking? If car space is limited, how do we ensure that the cycle routes and public transport are adequate for all of our groups of people? Do we need any more supermarkets? Do the shops that we have in the area serve the peoples' needs? Lots of people seem to be clamoring for a Waitrose, but can the people in affordable housing afford to shop at Waitrose? Would students shop there?
Instead, it seems to me that the forces of the market are let loose. Perhaps this is no bad thing. One doesn't want to build retirement housing in an area that has no demand from people who are retiring. On the other hand, it seems to me that this works along the lines of:
The E&C is an "up and coming" area. Even in a recession, this is obvious, and so if one can afford to develop now (ie. if one has the capital), one will hope that we will emerge from recession at about the time the building work finishes. Since E&C is central London, we will get more money from building small flats for individuals or couples. The more units we can squeeze in, the more profit we'll make. Family housing does not make so much profit so we won't build any, since one family house might take the space of 3 small professional housing units. Students need to be accommodated in the area as Kings, College of Communications etc. are all nearby, and the recession won't affect student numbers that badly, so that's a good market. Green spaces are nice to retain, but if we make profit by building over them, that's not such a problem. If people shout up and down enough, we'll agree to put a smaller green space with a bench somewhere else. The area doesn't suit families because the school provision in the area is not vast, and it's too expensive to build more schools here because this is prime land.
I don't know exactly how one goes about solving this issue, but if a developer sees a profit, they'll chase it (and, let's face it, who wouldn't/didn't try to sell their house when house prices were buoyant?). The council could refuse a good number of buildings, but then they presumably get some cash for allowing the building to take place. The council see all "regeneration" as a good thing, even if it's not regeneration, but "pushing out the people that lived here originally". In any case, the councils tend to only thing as far ahead as the next election.
My proposal would be that in order to create a representative society, we need to see a considerable strengthening of civic organisations that lobby and campaign on behalf of any particular area. If individuals oppose planning requests, the council doesn't have to take much notice. If multiple groups of civic organisations, all claiming to represent their constituents object, then they have serious issues on their hands.
In that sense, I see the London-Se1 forum as a forum for subversive strategy. By creating a "geographical" online hub for the exchange of information, one can actually put pressure on the Mayor, on Councillors and on local government to act in a particular way. There aren't that many internet hubs that are geographical because the internet, by nature, is an international set of links.
The question becomes "who is excluded from such debate?". To be genuinely fair, one would need to ensure that marginalised groups of people had access to a local forum or an online forum, or preferably both. Life tends not to work that way because marginalised people are disenfranchised due to not having the education (or quality of education), the impetus, the time, or the money to be able to put together (or access) lobbying organisations.
As the ward councillor I have taken a keen interest in this proposed development.
Whilst the developers have cut their proposals from 19 storeys down to 16 - and acknowledging that student stories are not as tall and that the 16 storey tower is about the height of the spire of St George the Martyr - this is a tall building in a place that is not in the area that the Council's Core Strategy identifies as suitable for tall buildings.
At the Elephant, at Blackfriars, at London Bridge - ok - not ideal but we will strive through planning to mitigate against the ill effects...
At Borough? No. Residents clearly opposite and ESRA, TNRA and Tabard North have all given me their mandate to oppose this development.
As the local councillor I will therefore oppose this at Planning Committee on behalf of local residents
Has anyone received a consultation letter about this (now validated) application ?
There is a very long list of consultees on the Southwark planning site-my address is on the list-but I certainly haven't had a letter yet.
They are not going to get many responses by the due date ( which now seems to be 03/01/2010 )if people haven't been contacted.
After having posted the previous question I emailed Helen Goulden -the planning officer dealing with this case-and have just had a helpful and lengthy reply-very good especially as it is a Saturday evening!
To summarise -the letters (over 3000) are only just going out and the end of the formal consultation period will be 21 days 'after the last consultation is undertaken'. Helen also says that objections will be considered up until the date of the planning committee which is scheduled to consider the application on 2 February though the earlier they get them the better.
So if you feel like objecting there is time to do so!