Last Tuesday, Greenwich Council’s planning board approved a 330-home development in Victoria Way, Charlton, including two 10-storey towers and 144 car parking spaces, to jeers from the public gallery.
The scheme was bitterly opposed by neighbours and the local ward councillors. But none of the six councillors on the planning board who backed the scheme even tried to explain why they voted for a development which even City Hall and Transport for London had voiced concerns about, due to the high number of car parking spaces.
With many neighbours feeling ignored by the planning process, Charlton resident HELEN JAKEWAYS asks why Greenwich Council and developers even bother asking residents for their views – and suggests there is a better way forward.
I am completely baffled by the purpose and implementation of the planning and redevelopment consultations which Greenwich Council and developers have run over the last few years when considering new developments.
These are very often poorly communicated and managed with very tight turnaround times, and do not appear to result in either consistency or transparency of decision making processes or outcomes.
Many people spend a lot of their own (unpaid) time meticulously preparing responses to these consultations as requested by those running them.
It appears to me to be unhelpful in the extreme when sessions such as that reported at the Fairview New Homes Victoria Way meeting take place.
It is also unhelpful when the views of local councillors, some of whom work tirelessly to mitigate the effects of this wholly ineffective state of affairs, do not appear to be taken into consideration either.
The perception created is that “stakeholder consultation” is largely a box-ticking exercise to fulfil statutory requirements. There is little genuine sense that when people put the effort in, it is going to be worth their time.
We all know we need to solve the housing problem in London. But alienating existing residents to ameliorate developers whose primary purpose is to generate profits for shareholders, and who have to be pushed to provide paltry levels of social and affordable housing, does nothing to help build harmonious community relationships.
Perhaps Greenwich Council could run a consultation on how it should consult and engage with “stakeholders”, so a basic level of consultation good practice and decision-making process, informed by the views of those stakeholders, can be established, communicated and consistently implemented?
There is no point asking people what they think if you don’t want to hear what they have to say, and can provide no adequate explanation for when their views are not used to inform plans and ideas which are directly going to impact on their lives.
This is worse than not asking them in the first place.
This is an amended version of a comment originally posted at The Charlton Champion.