Thursday 14 April 2005 5.21pm
The Church Commisoners are short of money and are determined to increase the return they get from their assets.
They own a lot of property in SE1 so you should find that the local MP and local Councillors are well up to speed on Church Commissioner issues. Indeed Simon Hughes
is (or was) LibDem spokesman on church affairs.
There are different possible approaches. Either you can use elected representatives, to intercede on your behalf. Or you can get organised and make a lot of noise, sufficient to pursuade first the planning department that they need to tread carefully. Or pursuade the Church Commissioners/Developers that local opposition is such that this scheme is going to be more trouble than it is worth.
First steps might include speaking to neighbours to confirm that others share your concerns. Then letters to both the church and local elected representaticves, copied to the Southwark Conservation Officer. Then perhaps a public meeting to which you invite the developers. Here it is essential to get as many people out as possible. This means that the developers do have to face questions and can see the level of concern.
In part you need to think of a Plan B. Buildings are taken down. Things change,. What is the real problem with the proposals. Is it the loss of the garden, the scale, the design, the use?
If you can be clear - for example you don't want to see any loss of green in a very densly populated area, particularly if there is public access to the garden. Or you don't want to lose the historic bits, you may well be able to get Southwark to pursuade the developers to scale down their ambitions. However it is important to get as much visible support as you can. People are votes, and so a negotiable currency to local politicians.