OLD BERMONDSEY FORUM
OBVNF AREA EXTENSION
URGENT ACTION REQUIRED
Formal Consultation on extension of our neighbourhood area closed on 01 February 2018.
The Council received over one hundred letters of support for our application to extend our neighbourhood area. This is far more than they have ever received in response to their own ‘consultations’ on policy for St Thomas St.
Nevertheless it came as no surprise to learn on Tuesday that the council has recommended our application for refusal. The Officers Report can be viewed in full here.
In anticipation of this continued resistance from the Council however we took prior legal opinion from counsel on our position in law which can be viewed in full here.
Our immediate response to this decision can be viewed here.
Even by their own standards Southwark Council have delivered a masterclass in make-it-up-as-you-go-along planning, no doubt in furtherance of their overriding objective – soliciting developer cash.
For example, the following maps taken from their own 2013 ‘characterisation study’ clearly demarcate areas to the north of Snowsfields as forming part of a cohesive area that they designate ‘Bermondsey’. Very obviously the Vinegar Yard warehouse, the shops and residential premises in Snowsfields and Melior St and the small offices and heritage buildings in Weston St are entirely in conformity with the Bermondsey St area. But, as we know, facts and logic are never allowed to interfere with the Council’s anti-local plans where there is cash to be harvested from big developers.
Although calculatedly ambiguous, as usual, the Council rely heavily on their 2014 decision designating a neighbourhood area exclusively of their own making and for their own purpose – keeping us out of St Thomas St. The argument they advanced then was obvious nonsense [see paragraph 24, 2014 Officers Report here ] and it is even more obviously so now. They happily shut the door on effective Neighbourhood Planning in Bermondsey by cutting St Thomas Street out of our initial proposal – ‘The St Thomas St Plan’ – by adopting the manifestly artificial and inappropriate northern border of Snowfields. The report declares the ‘predominantly residential, interspersed with commercial and industrial uses’ to be wholly incongruous to the sites north of Snowfields: The Horseshoe Pub? Vinegar Warehouse? Snowfields ‘Pocket Plaza’, Weston St?
Our position remains that the proposed areas of extension clearly make a for coherent neighbourhood because they fit better in character, urban grain and scale with the northern part of the area designated by the Council; they mainly consist of small independent businesses and residences with a high concentration of buildings of some historic or architectural interest. [Excerpt from our current application to extend the Neighbourhood Area]
This includes the area above Snowsfields which even by their own study clearly constitutes a more coherent neighbourhood area than the ‘Area A’ designation of 2014.
To underline the conclusion of our legal advice:
Should the Council decide to uphold this complete refusal they will be at risk of legal challenge by Judicial Review. Such proceedings would highlight the contrived inconsistency, perverse reasoning and brazen denial of facts. Just as importantly, it would spotlight the real reason for their decision, namely to cream off big bucks from developers in complete disregard for the character of the area, its heritage, and of course overwhelming local opinion.
Whether or not you responded last time please take a few minutes to email firstname.lastname@example.org and let them know your opinion about this decision before 5pm this Friday 23 February 2107.