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Southwark Council Planning Department

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Wednesday 15 December 2010 3.52pm
It appears that SC Planning Department have decided that they know better then the local community, which they are meant to represent, and continue to ride roughshod over the local wishes of that community.

If we lived in the former communist states of Eastern Europe this may be understandable, but living in an apparent Western democracy it is about time the Planning Department was called to account, not just by a few councillors every now and again, but by the people they are meant to represent.

I have in the past suggested that they cannot be impartial in their advice given, and that the only way to progress from approving a kitchen or attic extention is to get involved and APPROVE by default a major (preferably "regenerational") project, but it seems that this is now bwing taken beyond exteremes.

The recent Quill project approval goes aginst their own guidlines, the wishes of the local community and those charged with ensuring the built community (English Hertitage) is in keeping with our very best heritage. Despite all this the Planning Department managed to recommend this.


There are no cogent reason for this except those which I may have alluded to here. None of the reasons appear to benefit the local enviroment or community so someone has to ask exactly what are the reasons to overide the "local" view. Is there corruption at the heart of the department. or is it simple self serving interests. Whatever the reason(s) it is not fair or democtratic and there needs to be a fundamental review of those who work for SC and their reasons for the decision.
Wednesday 15 December 2010 4.52pm
Corruption is a very serious accusation for which you have no proof.

However, I agree with you when you say that there is something fundamentally dysfunctional with the way planning application work in Southwark.

I believe the root of the problem lie with the fact that most of the councilors sitting on the planning committee come from the south of the borough while most of the building work takes place in the north. Planning decisions are being taken by councilors who ultimately cannot be held to account by the people those decisions affect the most.

Then there is sadly the question of local politics: Why would Labour councilors do any favour to a ward that is dominated by the Libdems?

The end-result is that a disproportionate number of student accommodations is being built in a very limited space. I can personally count 3 new halls within 500m from where I live. The nature of those accommodations are a cause for alarm and so is their densities which are way above what the Council itself recommends for private developments.

In short, I am afraid it’s all about allowing developers to get away with what they want and ship the cash to Peckham… and there is nothing you or I can do about that.
Thursday 16 December 2010 10.10am
The answer lies in Cllr Fiona Colley's comment made at the recent Bankside Residents Forum, "We see Bankside as the real engine house for Southwark's local economy..." She went on to say, "It's an area that needs to do well for the borough to do well. So we are not in any way seeking to pull funds out of this area. We want to see this area improve."

Leaving aside the mess of Borough High St, I'm not certain what more 'improvement' is required, but I guess this line will continue to be pushed in order for status development to continue in the name of regeneration, a word which has lost any sense of its roots in community.
Saturday 18 December 2010 12.45am
Its interesting to read this thread and see how the north of the borough has changed in significance in the last 25 years.

Back in the 1980s almost anything (in planning terms) could be done in the north of the borough because, as Tabularasa says, most councillors came from the south and hardly knew that the north of the borough existed. That was the central reason why the Bermondsey Street Conservation Area was largely ignored by Southwark Council.

Today, the north of the borough is certainly the most publicly recogniseable part of Southwark and I'm not surprised that councillors see it as the 'engine room' of the borough. So, in the last 25 years, the north of the borough has gone from being entirely ignored to being the focus of attention.

Sadly, back in the late 1980s and early 1990s there wasn't an established community in the north of the borough which had enough clout to get the attention of the planners. The result is that, today, any effort to obtain a coherent planning policy for the north of the borough now needs to accomodate diverse interests including a relatively newly arrived residential community and a commercial community who are in the area to make money.

I hope that Southwark will find some way of accomodating these two communities and to the benefit of both.

Regards to all.

Saturday 18 December 2010 11.34am
Niall Connolly wrote:
...Sadly, back in the late 1980s and early 1990s there wasn't an established community in the north of the borough which had enough clout to get the attention of the planners. The result is that, today, any effort to obtain a coherent planning policy for the north of the borough now needs to accomodate diverse interests including a relatively newly arrived residential community and a commercial community who are in the area to make money...

There was a long-term established community of mainly council tenants who spent many a year organising and fighting the changes that were kickstarted in North Southwark by the reign of the London Docklands Development Corporation in the 80's. In the end, it was just impossible to get the ear of developers because there was no real genuine attempt for developers to consider the local population. One of the legacies of this is the endless stretch of dull townhouses along the river on Rotherhithe St, a bit further East of Tower Bridge that also enclosed parts of the riverfront walk from local people.

Not much has changed today. I wonder how the newer residents will cope with the ever-increasing demands placed upon Bermondsey, Borough and Bankside to build build build? In the old days the Council was occasionally at odds with the notion of profit-first, community second. These days even that slight buffer has gone.

There is a section in the booklet 'Jam Tomorrow! Some history and notes on the regeneration and gentrification of North Southwark + Bermondsey Part One: 1900 - 1987' about how the local community was organised and wins and losses of various campaigns.

Here is the opening paragraph of the bit on the local area's community organising:

'Resistance to the Plans
At the very start of the 80's, local people, tenants groups and political activists in the North Southwark Community Development Group were putting out flyers, holding public meetings and flyposting against the rampant speculation in North Southwark and especially opposing the Hays Wharf and Butlers Wharf developments. They also issued numerous reports on social issues including what local people wanted and studies of declining industry and employment in the area.

In October 1981, on the first day of the LDDC's reign, people from Southwark, Newham and Tower Hamlets, joining together as the Joint Docklands Action Group, picketed the Corporation's offices in Poplar demanding the implementation of the London Docklands Strategic Plan from July 1976. For many people living in the Docklands area, the LDDC was an undemocratic and unaccountable impostion. To avoid red-tape on development and troublesome local opposition, the LDDC had simply denied local groups representation on the Board, or had created non-representational roles for local authority leaders. The Board met without agendas, published no minutes and granted no public speaking rights at meeetings. The then LDDC chairman, Sir Nigel Broackes summed up their attitude on local democracy in a Guardian interview - "why face aggravation from councils opposed to the profit motive and home ownership.

Campaigners also argued that the LDDC would give free rein to private developers with no overall structured planning process and that local businesses, and thus local jobs, would continue to be pushed out or forced to close."'

Rest of that chapter here:
Saturday 18 December 2010 5.21pm
Sound like you want to hear what you like Urbanite and ignore other things.

EH did not have a problem with the Quill effecting the Bermondsey conservation area, neither did the Mayors office or CABE. So your slightly stretching the truth suggesting otherwise.

Also the London plan, which has been around for a good many years accepts a development like the Quill in its location so again to blame Southwark as if it they have made up their own rules is not quite the truth is it. It seems you not them that are alluding to Soviet tactics by ignoring the truth to put across your views.

Its hardly rocket science that Southwark wants to concentrate large scale development at the north of the borough, just as Lambeth is doing as it is after all central London.
Sunday 19 December 2010 10.45am
i agree with lambeth local. the objections to the quill were just naive - it does not affect the bermondsey conservation area or the integrity of bermondsey st. the sellar tower proposed for the top of bermondsey st, yes, but not the quill - or even the st thomas car park really. bermondsey st is not a village like barnes, but more like the city or spitalfields - where high rise buildings work well in tandem next to old conservation streets.
Friday 22 April 2011 8.36pm

I have another example of where a Southwark Council planning case officer has disregarded the views of the local community (evident by a petition with over 270 signatures from local residents and around 60 individual objection letters).

A development has been re-submitted to Southwark Council after the applicant withdrew it last year due to some serious concerns the case officer had with it and due to the numerous objections from local residents.

Despite the fact that this re-submitted development has not addressed the concerns raised by the case officer last year and despite the fact that this development contradicts over 12 of the Council's own policies, this same case officer stated that he now intends on recommending to the community council that this development be granted.

Furthermore, the case officer admitted a few days before the statutory end period that he had not even started reading the objection letters yet but was inclined to approve the application nevertheless.

BTW, this application is only for 2 dwellings which would only benefit 2 families at most but would be detrimental to over 300 local residents.

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