LBHF Planning Committee rejects planning application for the St. George Development, but final decision will be taken by the P
lanning Inspectorate.

The Council's explanation

A proposed 251-unit housing development at Olympia has been turned down by the council’s planning committee.

The decision delighted local residents who have now vowed to continue their fight against the development before the independent planning inspectorate.

It was proposed to construct the five-storey housing block on the car park of the Olympia exhibition centre site behind Sinclair Road.

More than 400 residents wrote to the council to object to the development, and a petition against the development, with 427 signatures, was also received.

Ward Councillor, Melanie Smallman said: "This would clearly cause a massive over-development of the area and would be very harmful to the local environment.

"Residents were very clear in telling us all of the local community is opposed to this development and they are determined to continue their fight to stop it going ahead."

Sinclair Road residents’ association spokesman, Philippe Auclair said: "The unanimous decision by the council to reject this plan vindicates our fight and is a clear sign the community is against this proposal.

"But this is just the beginning, and the real campaign begins now, when we will take our fight to the planning inspector."

The council opposed the development for a large number of other reasons including, the increase in noise for surrounding residents, the removal of woodland and the pressure such a high-density development would put on local services such as nurseries, schools and GPs.

The development also fails to provide open space and green areas for residents and children and it would significantly effect parking and traffic congestion in the area, which would be exacerbated by the loss of the Olympia car park.

The developers have already appealed to the independent planning inspectorate because the council did not decide on the application within eight weeks.
However, Government targets seek to have council’s deal with major applications within 13 weeks, which often means developers appeal early to gain the earliest possible date for a public enquiry into their development.

Because the appeal has already been made, the council decision will go straight to the planning inspectorate.

Given that the council is opposing the application and the developers could have appealed any refusal, it would always have gone on to be decided on appeal.

Because of the size of the development and the large amount of public opposition to the proposal, the planning inspectorate will hold a public enquiry into the proposal before making a decision.


SRRA celebrates

"Our first true victory…or was it? Last-minute tactical manoeuvering by St. George (who appealed to the Planning Inspectorate, and withdrew their duplicate application a mere two weeks before last night's meeting) meant that the Planning Committee of LBHF were not empowered to reject the developer's Planning Application, but had to content themselves with a resolution stating that, had they been allowed to do so, they would have rejected it. So, had it all been in vain?

The answer to this question is an emphatic "NO". Case Officer Niko Grigoropoulos opened the proceedings with a damning resume of his recommendation to the Committee (published here), in which the words "monolithic", "inappropriate" and "unacceptable" recurred a remarkable number of times. It was obvious from the outset that this opinion was shared by all the members of the Committee, as well as the 350 - yes, 350! - members of the public who had gathered at the Auditorium of the Olympia 2 Conference Centre for the occasion. Many of these had come bearing placards, donning T-Shirts and holding balloons bearing the same message: "No To St. George". In that respect, the undoubted star of the show was Ginger the Labrador, SRRA's own 'watchdog', who was wearing one of these T-shirts (XL fit).

The exchanges that followed (and which we hope to publish on-line in full once the minutes have been passed on to us) were mostly notable for the fierce attack launched by Cllr. Dame Sally Powell on St. George and on the "scandalous" way in which they had prevented their Planning Application from being reviewed by the democratically-elected members of the Committee. When asked why it was that the council had not been able to process the application within the statutory eight weeks, Dame Sally Powell explained that, given the scale of the proposed development and the number of representations submitted to the local authority, it would have been impossible to do so without cutting corners and, therefore, run the risk of making mistakes in the final report, which the developer could and would have used to its advantage during an appeal procedure.

Following an impassioned call for unconditional rejection of the scheme by Cllr. Melanie Smallman, on behalf of the residents of Addison Ward, the Planning Committee then proceeded to vote. Their decision was unanimous - a resounding "NO" to St. George, greeted by loud applause from the floor. Will this "no" matter? Yes it will! The LBHF Planning Committee resolution will be forwarded to the Planning Inspectorate, and form part of the council's representation. It has shown that, for once, all political parties active in the borough are united - in their opposition to St. George's scheme. The huge turnout, on a cold, wintry night, at an early hour, with no Central Line trains running, indicates that the local community is more engaged than ever in its opposition to the developer's plans.

But, as one resident put it, paraphrasing Winston Churchill: "This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning".

We all know who won in the end, don't we?"

SRRA Web site

Read also:
The Sinclair Road Residents' Association (SRRA) is campaign against the proposed redevelopment of the Olympia Carpark to protect the “green corridor” woodland and its wildlife.