‘Shameful’ conduct of planning meeting ignores common sense

chris-masseyCROYDON COMMENTARY: Last week’s council planning meeting, the final one of 2016, was “a shameful night” for the borough, according to CHRIS MASSEY, a concerned local resident

The meeting of the council’s planning committee last week was a shameful night, as more development was passed on political grounds rather than on integrity and common sense. Councillors voted with their political peers rather than their conscience.

It seemed obvious to me from the start that their decisions had been made well in advance, to vote with their political party – Labour following the planning officials’ reports, Conservatives generally voting against because they are the “opposition” – and this was them just paying lip service to the process.

The development of a tower block in the centre of Purley was passed with all the Labour councillors on the committee voting in favour, citing that:

  • Young people (all the new proposed occupiers apparently) do not own cars and so would have no need to worry about parking.
  • It is a “landmark building” that Purley town centre needs and will regenerate the area.  So regeneration equals building a 17-storey block of unaffordable flats it seems.
St Edmund's Church, seen from Wandle Park. Soon to be the site of a grey concrete four-storey tower block

St Edmund’s Church, seen from Wandle Park. Soon to be the site of a grey concrete four-storey tower block

The other decision of the night to concern me was the authorisation of the destruction of a piece of the borough’s Victoria heritage, St Edmund’s Church by Wandle Park. This badly neglected building’s fate was sealed along much of the same lines of arguments as Purley, and coincidentally by the same councillors.

One councillor even stated that the new development was (ahem) “a beautiful-looking building” and was a fitting place for this housing block.

It was obvious that a few passed no comment when it was their chance to speak and voted because they were expected to follow their party nor their conscience.

The planning committee chair, Paul Scott, voiced his opinion I feel inappropriately.  Surely that is not his role? He should be there to facilitate, conduct and moderate the proceedings, and not to interject and dismiss objections to the scheme. Perhaps as I’m new to this local council stuff I naively misunderstood his role.  

I know that in the commercial world such behaviour would not be allowed.  There is obviously a conflict of interest with the chair forcing his political agenda through this meeting. I was just amazed when I saw this happen!

Perhaps the public would have more faith in the process if all councillors at least had the dignity to say publicly that they do not approve of the developments in front of them, but will vote on what they are instructed to do so by their political party.

All in all, I felt that it was a bad day for Croydon but hey… it a very positive step for those with an agenda to redevelop the borough seemingly at any cost.

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6 Responses to ‘Shameful’ conduct of planning meeting ignores common sense

  1. arnorab says:

    As I’ve said before, I don’t know why the Borough persists in maintaining the farce of having Planning Committee. It is in no way a forum for debate but exists simply to rubber stamp the wilfully blind financially driven dreams of the dictatorial triumvirate of Scott, Negrini and Newman. A lot of money could be saved by bringing down this pantomime of democracy. At least, if we let them do what they want, regardless, we’d be spared the sanctimonious sermonising that so often accompanies planning pronouncements from that determined trio.

    • How true. Just wait until the revised Whitgift application goes in and see how much “debate” goes on around it. Negrini, Scott and Newman will be at the beck and call of Hammerson/Westfield whatever they might pretend to have some influence. Money talks.

  2. When the planning was given to the monolithic Oasis Arena Secondary School the same accusations were levelled at this committee then. What was even more laughable was the way in which the Woodside Councillors (Newman, Scott & Ali) went out of their way to not support the residents who would be most affected by the development. The only politician who offered to help was Gavin Barwell at which point they changed the procedures for the committee to stop him from making a representation. Newman as Leader of the Council, Scott Chair of the Planning C’ttee & the elusive Ali as member of the C’ttee, what hope did we have?
    They know that we poor peasants and downtrodden masses do not have the resources, finances or expertise, to challenge what many feel as bias in this committee, until something changes within local politics we will have to get used to complaining.

  3. Have a look at the cartoon in the centre of today’s Guardian. It is supposed to represent Empress May and her courtiers but could so easily be based on our local unholy dictatorial triumvirate of Negrini, Newman and Scott. Come to think of it, looking more closely, it IS about these three and only sort of resembles the Westminster lot. Everyone should see it!

  4. veeanne2015 says:

    Nothing will change, whichever party is in power, until residents start voting for a CANDIDATE instead of a party which only results in a Council Cabinet (or at present a mini-Cabinet) deciding everything, with the other councillors just voting fodder who daren’t object to hare-brained schemes.

    If only at the next Council election people would vote for, say, two of their preferred party and use the third vote for SOMEONE ELSE, it might restore some semblance of democracy, common-sense and sensible co-operation instead of the dictatorship of the few, and the petty immature pathetic sniping of the many, that we have now. Some hope !

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