Undemocratic and Underhand
I guess at least some of you will have received your ‘Dear Resident’ letter by now whereby Greenwich Hospital Trust are somehow managing to circumvent due process of democracy and shove their horrible appeal for the redevelopment of Greenwich Market directly to the Secretary of State.
How have they done it? By, apparently, making a couple of huge changes to their plans and instead of then re-presenting them to a democratically elected council (where, inconveniently for GHT, not one member, of any political persuasion, was in favour of the original plans) getting the planning inspectorate to pass it on to someone who has no direct interest in the quality of the town at all but who will see they’ve been changed and think ‘oh, it must be okay now.’
It is so NOT okay.
GHT have conceded a small reduction in height to the hotel, agreed to keep the roof and to re-lay the cobbles (albeit interspersed with the dreaded granite setts), – but this is not the same proposal that was turned down by the council.
In other words, GHT have moved the goalposts.
The Planning Inspectorate come out very badly from this. They are allowing GHT to appeal a decision on a totally different proposal, instead of forcing them to re-submit to the council first. They call these ‘minor amendments.’ I argue they are nothing of the kind.
Admittedly, they’re not changng anything that might make the proposal considerably better. What of those Durnford Street buildings, which are part of the vibrant-but-rare ’real’ history of Greenwich, rather than just the picture postcard kings ‘n’ queens image, and which are looking just brilliant just now, as you can see from Paul’s pics? Perhaps this signals a sea-change in approach to heritage on the part of GHT?
Nope. Still to be bulldozed and replaced with a trash compactor, just so GHT can build more stuff. It’s an utter disgrace. GHT’s argument was that the buildings were unsafe. So unsafe that they needed to be pulled down, in fact – no inspector dared to even set foot inside them for fear of their very lives – but not so dangerous, apparently, that they wouldn’t rent them out to a florist for a year or so while they’re waiting for the final go-ahead…
Under these proposals we will still face the prospect of a 106-room hotel in the middle of the market, still face two years of the traders being turfed out and losing their business, and yet the underhand way in which the trust have changed things, makes it look to anyone coming to this from afresh as though they’ve made the concessions that would make this development acceptable
If the council loses the appeal, it cannot afford to go to a Judicial Review in the High Courts, and GHT knows that. These bullies (who, I have heard, anecdotally, are busy intimidating the market traders to keep them quiet) are going to win – unless we can stop them.
So – what’s to be done? Well, for starters, there is a ‘consultation’ at Unit 5b in the market place – largely unmanned, but there will be a brave soul or two present at the following times (presumably wearing full body armour) Blink and you’ll miss them.
Tuesday 6th July 12.00pm – 2.00pm
Tuesday 13th July – 5.00pm – 7.00pm
Tuesday 20th July – 12.00pm – 2.00pm
Tuesday 27th July – 5.00pm – 7.00pm
You can make ‘comments’ to Alan Ridley at the Planning Inspectorate, Room 4/02, Temple Quay, Bristol, BS1 6PN by 30th July 2010
There will also be a meeting on the 7th September at Woolwich Town Hall. We can turn up and shout loudly that this process is completely undemocratic. I know I keep banging on about this but it was a UNANIMOUS vote by councillors against this. EVERY SINGLE COUNCILLOR thought it was a bad idea, and yet these bullies who care not a jot for Greenwich, except as a cash cow for their various ventures, have chosen to sidestep us all and go screaming to teacher, changing their story along the way.
If this goes through, then we might as well kiss goodbye to all council planning applications and just send every development idea to the Secretary of State for a pretty little rubber stamp in future.
I am hoping that there will be enough people who give a damn about this to do something – I suspect cc-ing your comments to the Secretary of State wouldn’t be a bad thing.
the attachments to this post: