The fight to save the Bussey Building could be a turning point in local people realising the importance of getting involved in the planning process.
After 15,000 people came out to object to a development in Peckham that would have threatened the thriving music venue and seen 700 jobs lost, the application was withdrawn.
Engagement in the planning process is low and often confined to home owners who are worried about effects on their property prices. In an area like Southwark the uptake is often lower than usual, as it has the highest proportion of socially rented housing in the country at 31 per cent. Together with a 22 per cent rate of private renting, Southwark has the second highest proportion of renters in the country. Only 31 per cent of residents in the borough own their homes and just two per cent live under shared ownership.
But the truth is that in a borough that is seen as fertile land by developers, it is up to local people to engage and as we have seen in Peckham become empowered to make sure they keep what they want in their area.
Each week the News publishes the planning applications and for months we have been encouraging people to sign up to the new planning register that would give people email notifications of any applications they want. It is important that people continue to sign up and get involved in the planning process. The 15,000 who got involved in saving the Bussey Building showed that your voice can be heard.
Signing up is simple, find out more at www.southwark.gov.uk/planningregister