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
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
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.
"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
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,
SRRA Web site