Wandsworth Council Forced to Quash their own Planning Permission

2 mins read
A view of Putney Common with the hospital in the background, September 2013.

There is a conversation on Streetlife talking about the planning practice with Wandsworth Council. With no surprise for us, it confirms what we have been already saying for some time: Wandsworth Council is frequently in breach of its own policy and shows little respect for the all planning process. Below are extracts of the article (I put some sentences in bold):

Last year WBC Council submitted a planning application to grant themselves planning permission to develop the £4.5 million derelict Putney Hospital site on Putney Common.  Sounds reasonable so far but over several months it took relentless pressure from local residents to point out that the proposal was a stupidly over-intensive development of the site.  WBC proposed cramming a two-form entry school (420 pupils) and a 5 storey block of 24 ‘luxury’ flats on the site.  So over-intensive is this plan that it results in the playground going on the roof of the school.  […]
The application itself was invalid; riddled with numerous errors as well as in contravention of the 1871 Act of Parliament which was established to protect our shared common land.  The Council had bullied the Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators into swapping land for £250,000 and granting WBC an easement right to build an access road across the common.  It was either that or face a compulsory purchase order or even, it is rumoured, a legal action to have the Conservators disbanded. 
The Council were forced by residents to declare their first application invalid and made to start the process again. […]
The same ill-conceived application was resubmitted with glaring omissions like an Environmental Impact Assessment and a valid, reputable transport assessment.  Over 800 residents objected to the application repeatedly pointing out the Borough Planner’s (collective term) lack of integrity and honesty in meeting the requirements of planning law, regulation and process.  
So what did WBC do in October?  Despite knowing full well they were breaking the law Planning Officers went ahead and recommended the Council’s own planning application to the Council’s Planning Applications Committee and Councillors went ahead and granted themselves planning permission.
The Friends of Putney Common, a local residents group, sought legal council and gave notice of a Judicial Review to WBC.  Last Thursday they received notice that WBC had capitulated and obtained an undertaking that WBC would file to quash their own planning permission granted to themselves.

In an official press release last week the council said the decision would be “retaken rather than risk any delay caused by legal action”.
You can see the planning application, report and decisions on the Council’s website. You can read more on the story directly on the FoPC website: http://www.friendsofputneycommon.org/
The application was 2012/0758. Decision by the Committee to follow the recommendation of the officer (who made a powerpoint presentation of the scheme, same as for Peabody application!) was made on September 19th, 2012, by 7 votes to 2 (the Labour councillors) in favour.
According to the officer’s report, there were actually 315 letters of objections (about the same amount as against the Peabody scheme) along with 323 pre-printed postcards + 20 general comments and only 9 supports!
You can read the Wandsworth Guardian article: Campaigner’s force council into u-turn over “unlawful” Putney Hospital plans.
In echo to what the Clapham Junction Action Group has said after the decision on the Peabody planing, a spokesman from FoPC said:

“[The Council] did not listen. Nor did they hear the 628 objections from over 800 residents and other local organisations who made specific objections. The actions of the Planning Department in particular and the Councillors who voted for and support the scheme has been little short of a disgrace.”

The council will of course give themselves permission eventually by conforming to those things that they didn’t previously conform to, but it may make them think…

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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.