|The Future For Putney Place & Putney Hospital Sites|
Labour's man Stuart King writes to Putney
The headline good news story is of course that the Planning Application for twin towerblocks at Putney Place was unanimously rejected last week. I was at the Planning Committee meeting and it was good to see the planners’ emphatic recommendation to reject this application passed unanimously.
I have now written to the Chief Executive of Oracle, the site’s owners, urging him not to appeal this decision to the independent Planning Inspectorate. While they have the right to do so, I’ve told them that it would be a far more positive sign of their intent for them to admit their plans are dead and to start afresh with a clean sheet of paper working from the outset with those of us in the community who fully support redevelopment of this eye-sore plot of land.
The underlying problem here remains the abysmal lack of a strategic plan for Putney. It is this lack of local leadership from Putney’s MP and Councillors that has, in effect, held the door wide open for any stack-em-up, pile-em-high developer to come up with whatever preposterous plan they wish to impose. And, after all, they have the example of other over-developed sites in the borough to encourage them: our Thames riverside; Ralph West Hall by Battersea Park; the planned over-developments of the Ram Brewery and Clapham Junction – these all serve as evidence that developers have a great chance of getting away with these crazy ideas.
No wonder Putney’s MP is trying to shift attention away from her lack of leadership by talking about the planning bill that has absolutely nothing to do with local planning applications like these.
Still, we should savour this hard-fought victory against over-development at Putney Place. It was possible in no small part due to the huge campaign waged by local residents, over 400 of whom responded to my survey on the issue while many more wrote in to object directly. You can read all the objections here.
Another piece of news we can all savour is that work to clear the Putney Hospital site is soon to begin, after many years of legal stalemate. A few weeks ago the one hundredth hospital rebuilt since Labour was elected opened. It joins a list of new NHS facilities that includes our very own Queen Mary’s in Roehampton, reopened in 2005. It’s great that Putney Hospital will fairly soon be providing healthcare services again and could be one of the first GP-led health centres in London. I’ve provided a short Q&A here on the background to such centres, and the reasons we’re moving towards them.
Of course, just as one problem with Putney Hospital has finally been sorted out, another - the financial viability of the massive amount of private housing being built alongside the new health centre here – could replace it. At the outset I argued for a greater proportion of affordable housing to be incorporated into the Putney Hospital plans; the Primary Care Trust (PCT) preferred to make the biggest profit from the site, which meant private housing. In light of the current global economic slowdown I hope the plans are not further delayed because the private developer has no market in which to sell its homes.
At the moment there is very little market, even in London, for private housing to buy; but there is a huge demand for affordable housing to rent. In an economic slowdown like the one the world is now heading into, the construction industry – one of the pillars of our economy – is often hardest hit. And because house building supports secondary employment in so many other sectors: plumbers, electricians and manufacturers to name just three, it has a domino-effect. That’s why I support efforts to maintain the house building industry by ensuring that the Government and wider public sector can wherever possible fill the gaps.
It’s why I support the first call on any surplus public land being for more family and affordable homes to rent. That’s why I’ve written to the local Primary Care Trust to call for Arton Wilson House, now derelict former nurses’ accommodation on Roehampton Lane, to be sold to a housing association for new affordable rented homes.
I write about all these issues, and many more besides, on my website. And I publish a fortnightly e-news bulletin reporting on my work around Putney, Roehampton and Southfields – sign up here. My office is here in Putney so if you need my help drop in to see me at 35 Felsham Road (just off Putney High Street), or call me on 020 8788 8961 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
November 14, 2008