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Linden Homes Blackfriars Road development (was: Garages on Pocock Street)

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Saturday 24 August 2013 12.28pm
This scheme is on the agenda for the planning committee on 3 September:;

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Monday 2 September 2013 11.10pm
The much loved Blackfriars Cafe has been forced to close. The only proper fry-up and non-Pret or Costa offering (sorry Cafe Pronto) in the Blackfriars and Waterloo area, the cafe was both an iconic slice of old London and a very successful business. The cafe has been forced to close due to the proposed demolition of the Edwardian Mansion Block that it was sited in.
A vibrant and hugely popular cafe, running since 1977 - the cafe has had to leave despite the plans put forward by Linden Homes not even having been decided upon. The scheme - which proposes the demolition of the Edwardian mansion block that housed Blackfriars Cafe, the dry cleaners and newsagent (which have also been forced to close) and the 1872 Georgian pub which is home to Imbibe - is to be decided at a planning committee meeting tomorrow night. Please attend if you can, details below. It's a crucial demonstration about whether or not the council have any interest at all in demanding good quality architecture, in requiring decent sized properties with enough windows, in not being bent over by stingy developers who won't contribute proper section 106 monies, in sticking to their 35% affordable housing policy and in preserving heritage (all which Linden fail to do) - or if they are in hoc to unscrupulous developers who get land for peanuts, build poor quality schemes with tiny flats and make pots of money.
This area is the new gold rush for developers, so the council should demand the best and reject this scheme and not worry they'll deter developers. They have the opportunity to set a precedent, so firms know they need to meet the highest standards. Linden Homes need to be told to go back to the drawing board with better architects. Setting the bar higher will not just raise the quality of living for the area - but ensure the best economic benefits accrue - for everyone. Please attend to encourage the council to make the right decision.

Southwark Planning Committee meeting - Tuesday 3 September at 7 pm, 160 Tooley St, SE1.

And to read a little bit about the great Cafe institution that we have lost, go here:

Try not to wince when you read the line, "This is one of the few constants in the ever-evolving Blackfriars Road. We wouldn’t be surprise if Brian and Oz were still going strong in another 35 years’ time."
Wednesday 4 September 2013 12.10am
Hetty, very sorry to have just read via helpful SE1 tweet, as I could not attend the committee meeting, that the councillors have approved this development against the recommendation of Planning Officers.

It feels like the work the planners do in setting local policy (and that the public do in contributing to "consultation" on this planning) is a complete waste of everybody's time as it is being so comprehensively ignored by decision-makers.

Even given the word "affordable" is ludicrously vague when relating to housing (the Mayor thinks it means a studio flat at the Elephant for £300,000), it still seems councillors believe developers every time when they say that they cannot meet even the 35% policy minimum for "affordable" housing. And this when the the 35% campaign have shown how developers can pay a few thousand pounds to provide "evidence" for not providing even this minimum policy level and then the council will spend our money fighting disclosure of this so-called evidence.

This time the officers did not believe the developer, and recommended refusal, but have been overridden by the Planning Committee. For the record the officer recommendation to the committee in full was this: The affordable housing proposed does not meet the minimum policy requirement of 35% and the Council's considers that the viability information provided with the application does not demonstrate that as much affordable housing has been proposed as is financially viable for this development. The application is therefore contrary to Strategic Policy 6 (Homes for people of different incomes) of the Southwark Core Strategy 2011 and Policy 3.12 (Negotiating affordable housing on individual private residential and mixed use schemes) of the London Plan 2011

Why are our councillors on the committee (the majority of whom happen to stand for seats in the north of the Borough) not standing up for these policies and principles, when they all appear to say they want to see housing that really is affordable, and even "people from all walks of life" (© Cllr Fiona Colley) in their wards? It seems to me that actions speak louder than words in this case.
Wednesday 4 September 2013 12.30am
Luke - full story to follow, but the developers upped their affordable housing offer at the eleventh hour, and it was on that basis that it was approved.

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Wednesday 4 September 2013 12.33am
Gamesmanship! Look forward to hearing the full write up, thanks.
Wednesday 4 September 2013 8.05pm
James, thanks for the article; so in fact the "concession" by the developer that changed the refusal recommendation to approval brings the total affordable housing to 31% (from 20%), still below the minimum policy requirement of 35%.

And councillors voted on party lines. And the heritage representations (even from within the Council) were ignored by councillors from the larger party.

What a disappointment. Actions really do speak louder than words.
Wednesday 4 September 2013 8.56pm
I am also very disappointed, through the pressure brought from neighbours has meant this is a much, much better scheme than that originally the developer originally wanted (and yes, this is an ugly building, whatever the developer says).

It's particualrly disappointing that the planning committee is voting along party lines, that is not how planning decisions should be made.

Thank you to everyone who has taken part in objecting to this scheme, I am sure that this is the first fight of many. Don't forget to make comments on the Blackfriars Road SPD!
Thursday 5 September 2013 8.57am
All other considerations aside it's instructive that the developer was able to substantially up the amount of affordable housing at the twelfth hour. Shows what can be achieved when the authority stands its ground.
This was originally to be have been one of the sixteen early housing sites for displaced Heygate residents - it was dropped for 'planning and funding issues'.
Sunday 8 September 2013 8.16pm
So if the vote was split along party lines how did the parties vote?
Tuesday 10 September 2013 11.06am
I am just so sorry that yet again developers get their way and another little block of historical interest is wiped out in the name of rejuvenation. No tourist comes here to take photos of glass faced office blocks and unending chain stores. The quirky and charming don't stand a chance.
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