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Monday 4 August 2014 6.26pm
thanks, jazzyq, i hope we all get to really talk about this as things really need to change
Tuesday 5 August 2014 1.01pm
Just about the only effective defence (or delay) to the power of those with money (which has thoroughly corrupted our local politics and Council) is law. So learn about planning but also learn about law too. One way to nudge courtesy consultation into something more meaningful is mention the words "judicial review".

Just the delay caused by the judicial review process can cause projects to collapse.

These are greedy people - greed and fear. So use fear of lawyers because nothing else much registers with them.

I think we'll be seeing a lot more "DIY" judicial reviews and I hope our injustice minister Simon Hughes tries to ensure that residents and community groups have access fund to help pay for judicial reviews. It is one of the few trump cards we have left.

We have got one project withdrawn, and another we caused a delay so the project has effectively collapsed. Not bad for a bunch of fools in a tower block versing Southwark Council and it's powerful developer friends.
Tuesday 5 August 2014 5.06pm
Thank you pros for starting this thread.
Whilst some strategies may seem to be good it is often the tactics used to achieve the results that are questionable and certainly unwelcome, to be told "that the ends justifty the means" does not lessen the havoc wreaked upon the lives and futures of individuals and
their communities.
We certainly need more transparency in planning matters and the officers involved must be made to understand that they have, at the very least, an equal responsibility to the individual ratepayers and residents of the borough. It is not their sole duty to explain to developers how they can get round the planning restrictions, nor is it their duty to ally themselves only with the rich and powerful.

I would ask, Floodplain, if "the council is requiring the developers to use local labour and train local kids" how this works? If it is a requirement then the council must keep the figures to make sure the developers are abiding by the requirement and those figures must be available.
How many local people are employed by The Shard and No. 1 London Bridge Street and how many local kids are being trained or have been trained on these two very large projects?

I would argue that the disaster that overtook Labour's opponents in the May election came about because of the LibDems alliance with the Tories in government.Witness Lambeth's election results. Nothing to do with controversial planning decisions.
Tuesday 5 August 2014 8.12pm
Well, call me cynical but I think these developers will say exactly what they think people want to hear, pay "lip service" to the idea of local people and local jobs and then once the deals are signed quietly slide out of their responsibilities and do what they were going to do anyway hoping nobody notices.Then off to the next big money spinning project somewhere else, mouthing the same promises. Bet they laugh all the way to the offshore tax havens,having taken our local authorities and elected leaders for fools.
Thank you pros, and hhrca for your informative posts helping Southwark residents to understand what is going on.
Tuesday 5 August 2014 10.31pm
Floodplain wrote:
I just can't see what's wrong with planning decisions that are allowing new council homes to be built?

Right now more Southwark council homes are being demolished than any new ones that are being built or planned over the next 30 years.
Wednesday 6 August 2014 6.59am
I should have given the figures of the LibDems election results in Lambeth in my earlier post, here they are.
LibDems pre-election = 14 councillors
LibDems post election =0 (zero).
That indicates an anti LibDem vote as did the results in Southwark not a pro-planning result.
Saturday 9 August 2014 8.40am
I think it is excellent that this separate thread on planning has been introduced. As a resident of SE1 for the past 24 years, in the past 4 years in my local area (just off Blackfriars Road) I have seen decisions taken at planning committee level that have been based not on achieving some kind of balance, but rather solely on bringing developers' money into the borough, regardless of the cost to historic buildings and the long-established communities who came to live here when developers wouldn’t have touched it with a barge pole. We have made this area what it is and we deserve to be listened to but I agree with JazzyQ’s point that residents' views are being ignored.

In the highly contentious applications I have followed in my local area, I have seen time and again how the well-reasoned objections of residents, local businesses and ward councillors have been completely disregarded by planning officers, and by a number of planning committee members who quite frankly appear to be voting along party lines. This is, of course, denied in the Chair’s obligatory opening statement that the committee is “not whipped”, but no one believes this anymore. Every planning committee meeting I have been to has ended with residents feeling angry, frustrated and simply not listened to. Southwark Council claims that it cares about our views, but these planning committee meetings in our area tell a very different story.

The lack of will from all but two or three councillors to raise questions during these meetings is shocking to observe. I spoke at a planning committee meeting last month in objection of the proposals to demolish 50 per cent of the designated Valentine Place Conservation Area. Due to Pure hard slog over the past 18 months, I knew more about the history and architecture of that conservation area and the planning application and its 100+ supporting documents than anyone else in the room. As I observed the committee members while I spoke, it struck me that some of them appeared quite bemused and/or disengaged. I wondered if this was due to some of them being newly elected and asked myself the questions: have they been fully trained yet in assessing applications? Are they lacking in confidence? Is it because it’s now 10 o’clock at night?? Who knows. What I do know is that councillors who sit on planning committees have the power to make both sound judgements and erroneous judgments that have a deep impact on residents’ lives, and with that responsibility comes a requirement that they should be fully conversant from the beginning of their appointment in assessing planning applications in an informed and objective way.

Worryingly, it is not only residents’ views that appear to be overridden time and again during the planning process. English Heritage had made no less than SIX well-reasoned, detailed and serious objections to the Valentine Place application. And Southwark’s planners’ response? They overrode them all in what I believe to be such a factually unfounded single paragraph in any planning report I have ever seen that I’m quite literally stunned that it was ever allowed to be considered valid for inclusion in the report recommending the approval of the application.

Floodplains: when it comes to the "building of new council homes" in SE1 I am assuming you don’t live in my part of Southwark? I ask this because every recent development in my area has been largely about building expensive private flats, and every one of these developments has initially come in way below the standard quota of affordable homes (I believe this is meant to be 40% at the top end and 35% standard). I think it would be really useful if you were to tell the forum where this positive building of new council homes and providing jobs for local people is taking place in the borough, as this is news to me. We could use it as an example of how to do things better.

My London Home regularly advertises on LBC News with a proud boast about its 98% success rate of selling properties to non-domiciled buyers. And for an idea of the pricing levels we’re seeing today
Is this what the promise of “affordable homes for Londoners” was really meant to deliver?

And finally, on the ongoing tall buildings theme: if anyone would like a visual of how thing are REALLY going to look once the plethora of tall buildings have been built anywhere there's a spare plot (rather than what many other cities around the world do, i.e. planning carefully and clustering them together in appropriate locations), I can't recommend this interactive map highly enough:
This map is the ultimate proof that pictures really do speak louder than words.
Saturday 9 August 2014 10.10am
Thank you bumbly...a sobering set of photos. And I totally agree with your assessment of planning committees...they are a random collection of people who may or may not show up on the night, who are frequently unfamiliar with the area (since Southwark is so big and sprawling, someone from Dulwich has not got any interest as to what happens near Tower Bridge). It's simply a lottery as to whether the guys on your side are there, and whether or not they get a chance to put their point of view. The whole process is a shambles.
Saturday 9 August 2014 11.25am
I entirely agree, jackie, the whole process is a shambles and residents who care about their local area have to find out all they can in order to stand a chance of fighting back.
At QH we are circulating this document
Saturday 9 August 2014 12.07pm
jackie rokotnitz wrote:
Thank you bumbly...a sobering set of photos. And I totally agree with your assessment of planning committees...they are a random collection of people who may or may not show up on the night, who are frequently unfamiliar with the area (since Southwark is so big and sprawling, someone from Dulwich has not got any interest as to what happens near Tower Bridge). It's simply a lottery as to whether the guys on your side are there, and whether or not they get a chance to put their point of view. The whole process is a shambles.

Actually Jackie, what is disturbing is that I understand that the wsy it works is that the councillors on the planning committees are voted in by their party and take up a set role on those committees. Their job is surely to read and understand all applications that come before their committee, to objectively assess the applications,and to ask questions of the developers, Southwark's planners, and the people who speak in the three-minute slots. At the planning committees I have attended in the past four years I can safely say that, apart from two or three councillors, very little is ever said. I believe that every councillor on a planning committee should have to prove their ability in these areas, because at that point they are the sole representatives of the general public. If they are not listening to local people, what hope is there of democracy? I have now come to the conclusion that it is a disgrace that there is no controlling mechanism above planning committees otger than the very highest level of judicial review or an appeal to the Secretary of State. The former is largely inaccessible to the general public and the latter is only usually a slim possibility when an application of national significance is at stake. Put another (and slightly cruder) way, with local developments we are generally stuffed!
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