Call Made for Urgent Review of Planning in Wandsworth

Local residents' groups write open letter to David Cameron

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Four leading residents' groups in the borough including the Putney Society and the Wandsworth Society have signed a strongly worded open letter to the Prime Minister asking for an urgent independent review of planning procedures in the borough.

The letter, which is also signed by the Clapham Junction Action Group and the Friends of Putney Common, states that they are concerned about the fairness and legitimacy of planning in the borough. It goes on to say, "there have been too many examples of bad practice for this to be ignored.”

They have also written to Wandsworth Council leader, Ravi Govindia, explaining their reasons for appealing to the Prime Minister. They say that the have expressed concerns to the Council on numerous occasions but the final straw was the result of the recent consultation into the Local Plan which they believed showed that their concerns were being dismissed.

A spokesman for the community groups said, “Many residents have lost faith in the fairness and impartiality of the planning procedures used by Wandsworth Council. We have attempted to engage with the Council to get them to follow their own local and also national policies, but to no avail. Our analysis of recent planning decisions makes damning reading. We hope that David Cameron, who has always supported Localism personally and as Prime Minister, will respond to our appeal for an urgent review of what is going wrong in Wandsworth.”

The letter cites issues which concern them as representatives of the residents of Wandsworth which stretches from Battersea in the east to Putney in the west. They claim Wandsworth Council has been guilty of ignoring policies and guidelines related to key planning concerns: General Development Principles, Managing the Historic Environment, Tall Buildings, Methods of Visual Representation, Supplementary Planning as it relates to Housing, Affordable Housing, Conservation and Heritage matters, Residential Properties, Transport and Offices, and Consultation.

The letter goes on to say that however impressive the Local Plan related to planning and development might seem on paper, the guidelines and policies enshrined in that document are useless if they are consistently ignored by the Council. The adopted Local and Planning Policies are only treated as loose guidelines which can be ignored at will.

In calling for the Prime Minister to set up an urgent independent review the letter says:
“Your government has rightly placed localism at the heart of the agenda for reforming local
government practices, and indeed you have said you are a 'confirmed localist'. When
launching your party's local government campaign in Nuneaton last year you rightly
criticised the 'top down, target-driven, big bossy, bureaucratic, we know best arrogance' of
some local authorities and declared that this had been 'turned upside down.' The detailed
information provided with this letter unfortunately shows clearly that Wandsworth Borough
Council is falling far short in putting localism into practice in its planning procedures. It has
failed to listen to its residents and the groups that represent them, on numerous occasions.
We are therefore requesting that an independent review into Wandsworth's planning arrangements is set up urgently to trigger the necessary change. “

We have asked Wandsworth Council for their response to the criticisms in the letter.

April 7, 2014