After 1 hour of thirty six minutes of debates at the last meeting of the year a few days ago, Councillor Ravi Govindia, leader of Wandsworth Council, gave his view on planning reforms:
“New approach to planning? My ass!”
One can hear giggles on the Tory bench.
And he adds that “this Council has no interest in what happened before“.
Back in 2018, the Clapham Junction Action Group published a list of aspirations for planning reforms to be discussed. In drafting those pledges/aspirations, we have consulted with resident associations, community groups and Societies in the borough. We listed 9 areas of improvement in 3 larger categories: Meaningful public consultations, Planning Application Committee (PAC) representation and transparency, Local plan properly non-ambiguous and enforced.
As reported in the Planning Forum Meeting, based on the Draft document on planning reforms that CJAG had circulated in August 2018, and the invitation to comment reiterated last January, we received responses from the Wandsworth Society (download), the Tonsley Resident Association (email received 15th June 2019), and the Battersea Society (download).
We’ve never received any response form the Council despite numerous promises from Cllr Guy Humphrey, the chair of the Planning Application Committee.
I guess we have now received one, directly from the Leader of the Council: Planning reform? My ass!
The elegant response seems to be a trade mark of Wandsworth Council
Back in 2014, following the publication of the Putney Society, Wandsworth Society, Clapham Junction Action Group and Friends of Putney Common’s open letter to the Prime Minister, criticising Wandsworth’s approach to planning, the Wandsworth Guardian reported (article from the now famous Sophia Sleigh who later wrote for the Evening Standard as political correspondent and now for at HuffPost UK) on the Council’s response:
“Wandsworth Council has accused community groups of being ‘NIMBYs’ after they wrote to David Cameron to complain about the borough’s planning procedures.“
A few weeks earlier, the same Cllr Ravi Govindia confirmed that according to him, planning Policies were just guidelines that can be ignored if needed.
But of course it does not mater as this is just the past and this Council is only looking forward. Pattern of policy breaches, misrepresentation of consultations, dismissing planning policies, planning inspectors judging Wandsworth policies not compliant (2014) or policies ineffective (2015), misleading presentation of affordable accommodation and appalling record…
Plus ça change, moins ça change.
Merry Christmas, stay safe and have a good festive season nevertheless.
UPDATE 08/04/2022: Upload of the full video with question from Labour Cllr Simon Hogg on Planning Reform and response from the Leader of the Council, Conservatives Cllr Govindia (with a few interruptions from Conservatives Cllr Guy Humphries).