September 12, 2013 by Juha Repo
Linden Homes finally won planning permission for its housing development on 3 September 2013, when Southwark’s planning committee approved it. The Committee split on party lines with the four Labour councillors Nick Dolezal, Darren Merrill, Rebecca Lury and Mark Williams approving the plans and the three Liberal Democrats opposing them. However, Linden was forced to make changes such as increasing the proportion of affordable housing on site from 20% to 31%.
Click here for a report on the LondonSE1 website of the meeting. John Tolson, mentioned in the article, also spoke for BARD in the meeting.
BARD, which is made up local people, had fought Linden at each stage. It is worth saying that without that fight there might well be a 27 or 15 storey building with very little affordable housing in it and Linden might have succeeded in co-opting the community garden next to Helen Gladstone House.
We opposed the development on grounds of:
-density, height and massing
-impact on residential amenity
-not being policy compliant
-loss of the existing historical buildings
-failure to provide a children’s play space on site
-design and appearance
There are several points that BARD would like to make:
- There is a consistent pattern of Southwark ignoring its own policies and guidelines. For example, Southwark says that there should be 35% affordable housing in new developments and rarely imposes this on developers. (It should be noted that affordable housing is rarely affordable by a very large section of the population.)
- Children’s play space: the Mayor of London has developed Supplementary Planning guidelines (September 2012) for children’s space arising from new developments. It says that ‘All developments with an estimated child occupancy of ten children or more should seek to make appropriate play provision to meet the needs arising from the development.’ There is no evidence that Southwark has made a serious assessment of overall play needs in this rapidly developing area nor of an assessment of child play needs for individual developments such as Linden.
- There is a philistinic approach both by developers and the Council which sees new as good and is contemptuous of the historic importance of local buildings and conservation areas. The political love affair with short lifetime skyscrapers is something which future generations will have to deal with as they age, look ugly and pose safety threats.
- This part of Southwark is becoming unaffordable for many local people. The new developments exacerbate this problem As we have seen in the Heygate, those who actually lived there have been driven out and in the new development only a quarter of the new flats will be “affordable” with a mere 79 of them for social rent tenants.
With many battles ahead, BARD would encourage local people to continue to fight for an area that genuinely reflects public and community spirit rather than profit and power.