This year marks my 25th anniversary of working with Southwark News on environmental issues that affect the borough, writes Donnachadh McCarthy.
My first campaign was against a proposal by Southwark Council to build on the New Church Road Wildlife site in Burgess Park and to remove the open space protection for the entire park.
Since then, Southwark tried 50 times to build on or sell off bits of the park.
With the help of the News, almost every single one of those battles was won.
But having failed to build on it, the current Director of Planning Simon Bevan is determined to destroy it by imprisoning it behind a continuous wall of skyscrapers, extending up to 50 storeys!!
Last month we wrote how Cllr Williams is proposing to abolish the borough’s democratic planning system, by abolishing all tower-block height restrictions and requiring all new developments to include as many homes as possible.
Bevan is now using the new Southwark Plan to enable off-shore developers to build their biggest 50 storey tower-blocks around Burgess Park.
He is proposing a new policy encouraging the tallest buildings to be built adjacent to “significant locations”, with no definition provided. This is a legal blank-cheque for developers.
But he does quote one example to illustrate what such a “significant location” would be. Yes, you guessed it. It is Burgess Park.
Southwark councillors need to wake up to the immensely destructive community and democratic implications of what Williams/Bevan are proposing.
It hands Southwark’s planning system over to developers, lock, stock and barrel. No more will local councillors have any decent legal grounds to oppose almost ANY developments in their communities.
It also means permanent over-shadowing and wind-tunnels for Burgess Park, destroying its human amenity and wildlife value.
Harriet Harman MP failed to reply to this column’s inquiry. But she is on record refusing to “second guess” unelected planning officers.
It seems to be okay for her constituency to be bulldozed for off-shore owned Singapore style tower-blocks, whilst she also supports having a quarter of a million more flights to Heathrow roaring over our heads.
Southwark New Labour must not be allowed to destroy our quality of life.
Donnachadh McCarthy has been an environmental campaigner in Southwark since 1992 and is author of “The Prostitute State – How Britain’s Democracy Has Been Bought” www.theprostitutestate.co.uk . He is also an independent environmental consultant www.3acorns.co.uk @DonnachadhMc