1 May 2009
A controversial housing development planned for Rotherhithe will have to go back to the drawing board - after the council accepted that its planning procedure was at fault.
In November last year, planning permission was given, subject to various conditions, to a scheme by Barratt Homes for over 200 residential properties on the Downtown site. Two previous, larger applications had been contested by local residents, and these are both due to be reviewed at a public inquiry.
In February this year, contractors working on behalf of Barratt began clearing the site, in preparation for development. Furious residents have sought to prevent the destruction of mature trees, whilst Barratt have maintained they are within their rights to continue with the felling.
An application for a judicial review of the decision to grant the scheme was then lodged by a local resident, citing five possible grounds. And at a planning committee meeting on Tuesday night, members were informed that the council accepted one of these five grounds and, as such was opting not to oppose the judicial review.
Planning Committee Chair James Gurling said: "When the council was served with the notice of this judicial review, I asked officers to examine each of the grounds put forward, in order to assess whether any of them were valid.
"As a result of this investigation, it has become clear that a small but significant technical error was made in processing an environmental statement. In these circumstances and on this one point alone, I do not believe it would be right to spend council taxpayers' money on defending a judicial review.
"In this case Southwark did not live up to our own high standards and I have made it clear that as a council, we now need to get it right."It is also understood that Barratt Homes will not contest the judicial review, clearing the way for a judge to overturn the planning decision and forcing the developers back to the table.
A jubilant Steve Cornish, Chair of the Downtown Defence Campaign, told the ‘News’: “The other four reasons were just has valid as the Environmental Statement failure. although we welcome the fact that good common sense has prevailed.
“Southwark Council was warned by the environmental lawyers representing our local resident and D.D.C. supporter months ago. But they have left it to the very last minute to act upon this. In the meantime we have seen over 200 mature trees destroyed on the Downtown site throughout the whole month of March this year.
This was during the bird nesting season and was sickening to see.”
Depending on the speed with which the judge acts, a fresh planning application could be considered as early as this summer.
RAILTON ROAD SE24,
Leasehold, For Sale
TEA TRADE WHARF SE1, £1,295,000 , For Sale
TOWER BRIDGE WHARF E1W, £550 , per week, For Sale
PROVIDENCE SQUARE SE1, £1,600,000 , For Sale