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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