Planning Forum meeting October 2011: some feedback

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On Tuesday, October 18th, was organised the Planning Forum at Wandsworth Borough Town Hall. You will find below some comments and feedback. They do not intend to replace any minutes and are obviously my own views of the meeting (and comments in red).

Local development framework update

Development Management Policies Document & Site Specific Allocations Document
An independent inspector was conducting hearings regarding the Council’s planning documents at the beginning of October (the Clapham Junction Action Group was invited to attend on October 11th and we will report about this meeting here soon).
The main topics were: tall buildings, housing policy, town centre, Wandsworth delta, Nine Elms, with thorough discussions on Putney and Clapham Junction. Martin Howell (Group Planner – Policy & Information), thanked everyone for participating.
A report on the hearing session will be drafted for the next Transport Committee on November 14th.
Wandsworth Borough Council (WBC) should receive the report from the inspector early January 2012.

Although not clearly stated, the date is very important. The government is currently working on new regulations (localisms bill) allowing local authorities to ignore the inspector recommendation as long as the document is said to be sound. It seems that the Council is betting that the vote in parliament will come in December, thus making any recommendation from the report in January not binding and WBC could choose easily to ignore them.

As we received grateful messages from the Council officers on the opportunity to exchange with local groups and residents during those examinations, I inquired about the possibility to set regular meetings with Council officers but Martin Howell replied that he preferred to have invitation for public events organised by the amenity societies. Meeting will also happened next year on the review of the Core Strategy (already!).
Planning Obligations SPD
Section 106 can no longer be used to collect monies and it has been replaced by Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). Nine Elms’s CIL are higher than for the rest of the borough.

Development management update

Pre-application charges
From now on boroughs can set their own fees. However there is no date yet for implementation, maybe April 2012.
In case WBS decides to to set pre-application fees, officers said it will need to be transparent and documents and reports of pre-app. meeting should be available.
Major developments

  • Springfield hospital: after WBC refused the application, the developers filled appeal. Hearings will be organised in November 2012.
  • Peabody: still confusing documents, and a meeting with officers should clarify the plans.
  • Clapham Junction Station: WBC is seeking to start new talks with Delancey on the site, especially in view of CP5 funding period (2014-19) for Network Rail where more money could be available.

Localism Bill

There is a 20 page document available to summarise the bill on the DCLG website.
There is currently the third hearing with the Lords’ Chamber and it is expected to be voted by the parliament in December 2011.
Issues are:

  • Predetermination: It should allow Councillors to make more comments prior to the vote before the planning committee.
  • Pre-application consultation: All major development will have to go through pre-application and a report will be published showing how it affected the application.
  • Neighbourhood planning: Council will be able to approve neighbourhood forums and will decide the level of implication in the process. However this is currently confusing and it is difficult to see how it will improve the community involvement. WBC officers said that they have already a great number of planning rules and documents.

Next meeting should be organised in January 2012.

Disclaimer: Cyril Richert was representing the Clapham Junction Action Group at the Council’s meeting

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CJI editor and Clapham Junction Action Group co-founder and coordinator since 2008, Cyril has lived in Clapham Junction since 2001.
He is also funder and CEO of Habilis-Digital Ltd, a digital agency creating and managing websites and Internet solutions.