Silence Over Putney Hospital Proposals Is "Clearly Unacceptable"

Concerned residents share their open letter to Thamesfield councillors

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Dear Ms Torrington, Mr Ryder and Mr Madden,

Proposed development of the Putney Hospital Site

We are writing to you in your capacity as the three Councillors representing the residents of Thamesfield Ward on Wandsworth Council.

As I’m sure you are well aware there has been considerable controversy surrounding the application by the WBC Director of Children’s Services to re-develop the Putney Hospital site to build both a 2FE primary school for 420 pupils together with a block of luxury flats on this very constricted site surrounded as it is by Common.

As concerned local residents we have written to the Applicant and other interested parties such as the Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators to question the size and the inappropriateness of the development. We have placed objections to the proposal on the WBC Planning Website which call for our very serious concerns to be addressed. Unfortunately we have been met with silence which is clearly unacceptable.

In May, because of actions taken by Thamesfield residents pointing out serious breaches of planning procedures, the Council was forced to declare the application (2012/0758) invalid. Despite this they have since announced that they intend re-applying with exactly the same proposal.

Among those who have made objections to the application on various grounds are not only numerous individual local residents but also the Commondale Residents Group, the Putney Society, the Governors of All Saints Primary School, the WPCC Conservators (despite signing an agreement related to access roads on the Common), the Putney Common Society. Justine Greening MP has also expressed her concerns in both meetings with residents and publically. In fact there have been very few comments of support for the scheme and those that have been made relate solely of the need to address lack primary school places locally.

We believe as our democratically elected representatives that it is your duty to state what your own views on the proposal are, and in addition to represent the vast majority of residents who have expressed dismay at the Council’s intentions.

We therefore call in this open letter for you to take the following action:
a) to openly declare whether you support or oppose the application;
b) to arrange an urgent open public meeting where the Applicant and the Planning Department can address the concerns of residents and discuss alternative options;
c) for all three Councillors, unless ill health intervenes, to attend any relevant Planning Application Committee Meeting at which a proposal relating to Putney Hospital will be considered, and to strongly represent the views of the residents in opposition to the scheme;
d) to press the Council to open an immediate inquiry into the maladministration by the planning department and to investigate whether the applicant knowingly made a false or misleading statement in respect of the application and have therefore committed an offence under planning law.

As you know we are not against development on the site as such. We are, however, of the view that the present proposals are entirely inappropriate due to very serious concerns over size and intensity, traffic and road safety, parking, the environmental impact on the Common, the likely health impact on primary age school children, the necessity for a playground on the roof of the school, the probable illegality of the WPCC agreements, the use of Common land for the construction of permanent roads, the related encroachments on Lower Common and other factors.

There is clearly a need to resolve the future of the redundant hospital, and we would hope that the Council and you our local Councillors will engage with local residents to formulate an acceptable proposal to ensure development which is not immersed in controversy and of which we can all be proud.

We have copied this letter to local media to encourage discussion and to enable your responses to be shared as widely as possible.

Yours sincerely,
Nicholas Evans, David Austin, John Cameron, Jennifer Landen, Juliet Farrow, Emma Smith, James Stuart, Jim Cleary, Alison Bauld, Prue Whyte and other Thamesfield residents

June 25, 2012