> The "Founders Place planning application will be
> heard at a special meeting of Lambeth's planning
> committee to be held at 7.00pm on Thursday 17th
> November at King's College's
> Franklin Williams Building in Stamford Street.
Drunk after too many cocktails in the OXO Tower with the wonderful Rabbie and Neil.
Planning Committee was odd. Meetings out in the corridors between developers and planners, about how to sort the tree problem. Pretty bloody obvious to me. If someone had answered one of my direct questions about the impact the development would have had on the trees sometime over the past year, we could have had it out there and then. People like trees. People living in the centre of the city care passionately about their bits of green and calm. And we are talking about the biggest, and probably nicest and most historic, park in the area. There is no reason why Lambeth should give away an important amenity simply because a developer wants to make more profit. There is a long term game as well to ensure that we have a mixed and balanced community with good facilities.
Anyway no deal was done and the decision is deferred to another day. Congratulations to the Lambeth's Planning Committee for seeing sense. Thanks to local politicians for their support - and here I include Kate Hoey, and Councillors Truesdale, Parry and Whelan. And also to some very sound Lambeth Parks officers who understand the aspirations defined within Lambeth's UDPs (old and new) and the need to Balance concrete with grass, if we are to keep a city we want to live in.
I will go quiet for a bit and leave obsessions to the cider boys. At least until the next time it comes up.
The bonues is that the Planning Committee also agreed that some S106 (planning gain money) from York House by Waterloo Station should also go into the park. Well if you don't ask you don't get! I hope it buys me my play equipment.
How am I going to sober up enough to get to get to work tomorrow. .
Also thanks to all who PM'd, to Mr Hatts and to everyone who emailed Councillors or turned up. People must have done because the response from politicians was immediate.
And find the time to come and see the trees. The park is lovely, and the trees are magnificent.
Edited 1 times. Last edit at 18 November 2005 12.53am by sarah2.
Many thanks to Sarah:
(i) for all the work she has put into fighting the Founders Place application,
(ii) for having the nous to demand some cash from the developers of York House for the park.
(iii) for introducing me to the pleasures of the Oxo Tower's Singapore Sling.
Well done from me as well Sarah. I'm sure it all would have sailed through fairly unopposed if you hadn't made the stand you did.
Would the trees have been even safer if they had a TPO applied to them or would that have made no difference to the decision at all? If it would be a material consideration should we look into slapping a TPO on everything taller than a shrub in the park?
There is a practical problem in that the dialogue with the developers and with Lambeth is carried out through the Chair of the Friends group. A couple of years back i spoke reasonably regularly to the then developers, and even, using my own money, sent out their newsletter highlighting an exhibition they were holding. Earlier this year there was a similar mail out with the current plans and consultation.
I assume that given this development, however it turns out, will be the biggest alteration to the setting of the park and the conservation area, it is important that individuals who care are able to know what is proposed at an early enough stage to take part in a constructive dialogue. Finally getting an answer to questions about the impact the development would have on the trees five days before the planning committee was plain daft. I really hope that if this was a ruse worked up by the developer's planning consultants, the developers reconsider their approach. People are not opposed to the development. They are opposed to losing public amenity as a result. The planning meeting was an expensive debacle for them. I don't know what happens next. But it would make sense, this time to listen to and take on board, community concerns.
This is the fourth such incident in the past few months. Lambeth failed to consult on a large replanting project. WCDG have taken over the playground project and have not consulted the origional partners (people like Sure Start and various schools and PTAs) on the final design, though they are raising funds to implement it. (In fairness the Lambeth Officer is also concerned and has sent me a copy, but my understanding the final design had to be accepted from the consultants about 2 weeks after WCDG took over, so I suspect local parents have lost their chance to contribute. This is so sad.)
A group of local organisations raised money, with the agreement of Lambeth Parks, to look at the feasibility of a cafe in the park. ( Which would have employed young people with either physical or learningn difficulties.) Now it seems that the grounds contractor is converting the building for their own use. An explanation, or even a thank you would have been nice.
Then the trees.
Ironically it means that I am worried about the grant of S106 money, as I am concerned that there is no longer a focus on the park users priorities, as evidenced in the park's management plan. The S106 for Founders Place would have gone in part to chop down the trees that make the park so nice. Circa £150,000 Neighbourhood Renewal money was spent bulldozing roses planted in memory of people who had loved the park. The park could benefit from money being spent on it. But given the lack of opportunities for local people to have their voice heard, the park might be better off being left as it is.
So back to Neil's question. We do need to look at TPOs and I will ask. There are another couple of issues to do with the conservation area and ownership which I need to follow up as this should allow greater protection.
But we need to do more in terms of trying to establish a dialogue with Lambeth, ensuring representation on the Lambeth Parks Forum and more. I suspect we can do this one of two ways. Either by asking the Friends of Archbishops Park to reconsider their policy of only allowing nominations to the Committee of people they have vetted, and also by asking them to reconsider the various requests for origional members of the group to stand down. (None of us are left.)
I fully understand the need to meet WCRT concerns about improving the level of skills and committment within the group, though feel that this could have been done through community training, rather than seeking to limit who could be on the committee. (It seems a real pity that given all the SRB money that has been in the area, so little has been spent on local capacity building. Instead it seems as if a number of groups are so dependent of paid workers, that the forward strategy for the community might end up as simply trying to find new sources of money to pay these workers...) But it is important to try to ensure that the wider community are represented and have a say in the future of their park, perhaps through revieing the idea of regular community events.
I now work full time, and am very aware that I really do not use this and other parks nearly as much as dduring my five year career break when I probably visited an average of a park a day. It is also important said they missed the community events which the original Friends group used to hold. They were fun and a way of engaging with park users. People for whom parks mean the most, are often those who are least able to come to evening meetings (people with young children or the elderly.)
I will ask both Lambeth and the Friends, whether there is a case for putting information out more generally. This site and other vehicles are a great way to inform people. People will respond if they are concerned about something. They won't if they are content. Making sure details on real changes like how much pruning the trees would get, or what was going to happen to the roses, is a great way of avoiding the sorts of fiascos we have had in recent weeks. We want to see investment in the park. Most people want to see the future of the land to the north of the park fixed. But it needs to be done properly.