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Potters Fields: residents prepare last minute plea to Prescott

London SE1 website team

A vote at the inaugural meeting of the Potter's Field Development Pressure Group was unanimous in opposing the Berkeley Homes plans for the riverside site next to Tower Bridge.

Ian Ritchie's design for Potters Fields

Chair Karen O'Toole said that concern among residents had risen following the publication of the planning inspector's report favouring Berkeley Homes and the announcement that the Deputy Prime Minister is minded to approve the plans. However, John Prescott had deferred confirmation for a further consultation on the affordable housing provision and other issues until Tuesday 22 November.

The proposal for eight cylindrical towers is opposed by Southwark Council which owns almost half the land.

Representatives of the Tower Bridge & Tooley Street Residents Association, long opposed to the Berkeley Homes proposals, were in the 25 strong audience at the hastily convened meeting in Nutmeg House.

Others speakers included Tooley Street tenant Leslie Smith who expressed concern about the development's 173 car spaces increasing the already high amount of traffic. He also suggested that shadow from the towers would cover half the river as well as the riverside.

Green London Assembly member Jenny Jones said that she did not wish to look at the flats every day from her City Hall office and insisted that the site was too precious to be used for housing and for profit. She added that she was happy to join residents in their protests.

John Mulrenen, Southwark UNISON secretary, said that the scheme contained nothing for local people who were gradually being removed from the riverside.

Cllr Jeff Hook, Southwark Council executive member for regeneration and economic development, representing council leader Nick Stanton, said that the council, as owners of 46% of the land, would not co-operate with Berkeley Homes even if planning consent were to be granted by the First Secretary of State. The Council's intention was to seek a cultural focus for the site and meanwhile hoped to negotiate with the developers.

Simon Hughes MP agreed that the site was unsuitable for housing and reminded the audience that he had long called for the former grammar school building on the south side to be returned to educational use.

Karen O'Toole expressed concern that the inspector had recorded details of trips to France and Germany to view work by the scheme's architect Ian Richie but appeared not to have visited Devon Mansions opposite Potters Fields.

The chair appealed to residents to write to John Prescott in the next few days.

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