As one objection, sent to the Council, said, it was slightly irritating that all the developers literature proudly proclaims “two brand new station entrances”, while failing to mention that they are also removing two, and that one of the new one (Grant Road) will only be lifts accessing the over-pass level.
Another letter was questioning Wandsworth Planning Service objectivity on the case, and noticed that the circulated notice of the planning application had the appearance and tone of an advertisement rather than an un-biased presentation of the proposed scheme and put a big question mark over the sincerity of the consultation exercise.
We have been taking a keen interest in the representations posted on the Council’s website from interested parties, and already commented on the fact that the objections greatly outnumber the messages in support of the development. However, of the 88 representations listed in support (on the 3rd December), we have noticed with alarm that no fewer than 14 of them (16% of the total) have been sent in by the same person (a resident of Wolftencroft Close as the address shows). Five of these are duplicated and appear to have been sent in twice. In addition, at least 24 representations have been listed twice (27% of the total) and a few representations counted as supports are in fact opposed to the development. And last but not least, about 50 representations (out of 88 ) have exactly and only the 4 sentences below, word for word:
“I am writing to express my support for the planning application to redevelop Clapham Junction Station. The proposals will help regenerate the Town Centre and will transform the station. This is once in a life time opportunity, it the plans are not supported we will face years of continued dreadful conditions at the station. I urge the Council to support the proposals.”
I am sure that the two councillors who forwarded most of those emails made a simple mistake and therefore believed wrongly that “it is fair to say that the application is attracting a large number of representations, both for and against“ (you could use the same wording for 1 million objections and 2 supports. I don’t discuss semantic I was told by the councillor).
We wrote to the Council and asked them to review the listings and remove all duplication both for and (although we have not spotted any) against the development.
We have no doubt that the Council and others (including the Mayor’s office) take a great deal of notice of the numbers of representations listed on each side of the debate, if not of their actual content. Surely, the Council would not wish the levels of support to appear over-stated if this has the potential to affect the outcome of the planning decision.
UPDATE 3pm, Friday 5 Dec.
We have received a response to our email from Mark Hunter, from the Council’s Planning Application office.
“With regard to the representations posted on the Council’s website, unfortunately, due to the large volume of representations received in relation to this application, and the fact that representations can come to me through a number of sources, (different e-mail addresses, as well as by post and fax and through Members), as well as being received at different times, it can initially be difficult to identify duplicate submissions. Indeed your e-mail will come to me through at least two sources, if not more. However, I can assure you that when the responses are finally collated prior to writing my report to Committee, this will be done from the paper versions, rather than the website, which should make it easier to spot any duplication, and whilst I cannot guarantee that one or two may not slip through the net, should give a fair account of the responses received.“
We accept what is said about the large volume of representations, but we think it is important that the debate is accurately represented at all times and not just when it is over.