CROYDON COMMENTARY: As the debate over whether Croydon should have a directly elected mayor trundles on, DEREK THROWER suggests that some may have a hidden agenda
If, as Chris Philp, the MP for Croydon South, claims (letter to Inside Croydon reader Steve Whiteside, published earlier this week), the local authority is “abusing the powers that the planning committee has to grant planning applications indiscriminately in the borough, most of all in the south of the borough. Time and time again people have been there to plead with the planning committee to listen, but they never do”, then there is legal recourse.
The public may seek a Judicial Review or, as a Minister of State, Philp may ask his relevant ministerial colleague in charge of this remit to censure a local authority that is taking legally defective decisions. From what I can see, these actions have only been threatened and never pursued.
So Philp creates a grievance which is based on the local authority following the ground rules set down by his own government.
Philp is trying to have his cake and eat it.
This is exacerbated by his own business dealings which demonstrate the hollowness of his concerns regarding the welfare of his constituents.
His own company, Pluto Finance, specialises in providing bridging loans to developers and a special niche to those who provide flats under Permitted Development rules. These are the converted office blocks which are used to provide residential accommodation and for which many can be referred to as due to their low quality as “Human Warehouses”.
These are a much more egregious form of overdevelopment than that being undertaken by the miserable show pony act which is Brick by Brick. Does he demonstrate any concern about this? Of course not, he supports such development of “brownfield sites”. That will be until they take place in his own constituency, and then guess what.
This may be his true grievance against the local council and planners. This local administration stopped Permitted Development in the town centre. His government is about to reduce red tape in planning and allow developers even more freedom to do as they wish, with little local authority planning oversight. Local authority planning departments are not reckless purveyors of experimental precedents, but follow and implement the rules and guidance from central government.
A democratically elected mayor will only make a difference at the margin and not in the underpinning principles that are being used to guide the overdevelopment of this local authority. These are set by Philp and his government.
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There is no UK local authority who has adopted the extreme planning guidance referred to a SPD2 or more colloquially known as SOD-U. This has come about because of exceptionally weak leaders in the Croydon planning department who have not been able to counter-argue or stand-up to Cllr Paul Scott’s personal planning agenda.
Pete Smith has been thrown to the lions but the rot in Planning starts with Scott.
Scott’s on censure is his party leader but they go on holiday together. Plus Tony Newman is a exceptionally weak politician.
That’s why we need a democratically elected mayor who will shift this debacle from the back rooms of the Town Hall into the public.
Tony Newman will not survive this and Scott will follow soon after.
Not sure you’re entirely correct, Sebastian.
There is an endemic culture within the council’s senior staff, and within the planning department, which has waved through countless homes-to-flats schemes since before 2014, and the arrival of Negrini and her placeman, Pete Smith.
Bullying, corruption, abuse of position, hand-outs of public money to family and friends, have all gone on at the council in recent years.
The elected representatives are supposed to take an overview of this, and insist on the highest standards.
In this, they have failed the people of Croydon, while Scott has managed to imagine a policy which serves only his colleagues among architects, developers and property speculators.
Just do a quick google search if you want to be contradicted Sebastian. Brent and Trafford Council’s appear to have adopted the guidance of SPD2 amongst many others. These rules are based on guidance from Mr Philp’s Central Government not plucked out the air at the whim of Councillor Scott. If Scott is acting unlawfully why is he not being challenged. We know the only challenge he has faced failed. He is playing the game by the rules of Mr Philp’s administration.