Author Archives: Henry Peterson

Autumn 2018 update on plans for Old Oak

For our neighbourhood, the biggest planning issues on the horizon stem from the ambitious plans for regeneration of the area to our immediate north-west.  This is the area for which the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) has been the planning authority since April 2015, taking over planning functions from LB Hammersmith & Fulham..

The Corporation is accountable ultimately to the Mayor of London.  The ‘opportunity area’ involved is the site for the HS2/Queen Elizabeth line rail interchange, and for an intended 25,000 new homes.

The StQW Forum has been involved since 2015 in working with local groups to help local people understand the implications of what is the UK’s largest regeneration area.  For the last 3 years we have questioned the basis of the 24,000 housing target for Old Oak, set in the 2015 London Plan.   This target was created as part of ‘vision’ for this part of London put together by Boris Johnson as the former Mayor of London.  He badged the project as ‘the Canary Wharf of the West’.

We have yet to find any local residents in and around the Old Oak area who support this vision, or who favour such extreme change to this part of London.   Along with local organisations the Hammersmith Society and the Grand Union Alliance, the StQW Forum co-signed a letter to the OPDC Board prior to their 29th September 2018 meeting.  This was the meeting which signed off the OPDC Draft Local Plan prior to submission to the Secretary of State.

A copy of out letter can be found at this link Sept 28 2018 Planning Matters Addendum 2.  While included on the agenda for the OPDC Board meeting, these reiterated concerns of local people were not mentioned in the Board’s discussion.  The next chance we have to raise these issues will be at the Examination in Public of the OPDC Local Plan.  This will take place in late 2018 or early 2019.

Changes made to the OPDC Local Plan

During 2018, the Board of the OPDC has found it necessary to make significant changes to its plans.   Responses to the consultation on its 19.1 Draft Local Plan, as submitted by HS2, Transport for London, and major landowners identified insuperable obstacles to early development of ‘Old Oak South’ (the area around the planned HS2/Queen Elizabeth Line interchange).

As a result, any plans and policies for this part of the OPDC area have been removed from the version of the Local Plan as submitted to the Secretary of State in October 2018.   The focus for early development is now on ‘Old Oak North’, the area made up of the Cargiant/London and Regional Properties landholding along with Scrubs Lane.

This is the area for which a consortium commissioned by OPDC (and led by AECOM) has been carrying out detailed masterplanning.  This work has included costing of major infrastructure proposals and testing of transport routes and development capacity.

The public were originally told that information on this masterplanning exercise would be made available in late 2017.  No such information has emerged, albeit that some of the results of the AECOM work have been fed into one of the ‘supporting studies’ for the Local Plan.

This is a document entitled Old Oak North Development Framework Principles.   As a ‘supporting study’ the document offers ‘planning guidance’ but does not form part of the draft statutory development plan.  But as we have found with the previous ‘Development Principles’ document for Scrubs Lane, the OPDC Planning Committee will no doubt treat these ‘principles’ as ’emerging policy’ and will place reliance on them when deciding planning applications at Old Oak North.

The section of this document dealing with development capacity (page 47) explains that the masterplan work identifies a total development capacity of 7,300 news homes and 73,000 sqm (Net Internal Area) of economic floorspace.  It goes on to say The development capacity of Old Oak North will result in the delivery of a range high densities across this place. The average density will be 600 units per hectare. This will vary across the place in response to public transport access, sensitive locations and site specific circumstances. These densities are of a scale that have only recently been delivered in London and will contribute to the form of a new London typology.

The reference to densities of a scale only recently delivered in London we believe to relate to the Isle of Dogs and parts of the Vauxhall/Nine Elms area.  The St George Wharf Tower in Vauxhall is one of the tallest residential buildings in London today (at 50 storeys and 181 metres height).  The Landmark Pinnacle residential tower at Canary Wharf (under construction) will be 75 storeys.

Six of the tallest residential buildings in Western Europe with planning permission are due to appear in the Isle of Dogs, Blackwall and South Poplar Opportunity Area (a Mayoral OA, as is the OPDC area).

From Landmark Pinnacle marketing brochure, Canary Wharf
From Landmark Pinnacle marketing brochure, Canary Wharf

Is this the ‘new London typology’ of built forms now due to arrive at Old Oak North?   Is this what west Londoners have asked for, in consultation responses on the OPDC Local Plan?

The proposals for ‘Old Oak Park‘ as consulted on by Cargiant/London & regional Properties in 2015 and 2016, did not involve buildings of this height.  In several meetings with London and Regional Properties and their design team, we were told that there might be a few towers of around 40 storeys and the remainder of the housing at lower heights.

The residential towers granted permission to date by OPDC in Scrubs lane are in the 20-25 storey range.   The Imperial College tower in Wood Lane, at 35 storeys, is the one and only very tall building in this part of London to date.

The final draft of the OPDC Local Plan provides very little information on building heights.   The whole plan is premised on ‘transit oriented high density living’ in order to achieve a 25,000 housing target set (with very little analysis) back in 2015.   But anyone reading through all the plan documentation will find nothing that provides an honest assessment of likely building heights.

OPDC draft policies state simply that ‘tall buildings’ will be ‘appropriate’ at certain locations.   Even the specific separate Tall Buildings Statement says Identifying general heights of tall buildings is not considered to be appropriate at this time.   Given that the Draft Local Plan has now been signed off by the OPDC Board and submitted to Government, it is not clear what other moment will be more ‘appropriate’ for some honesty and openness on this issue.

CGI image of Cargiant's proposals for Old Oak Park
CGI image of Cargiant’s proposals for Old Oak Park

Cargiant/London & Regional Properties have had their masterplanning work on hold for many months (their last public consultation was in July 2016).   How they now view the prospects for development of their landholding remains to be seen.   No construction work has started on the three major developments approved by OPDC in Scrubs Lane (North Kensington Gate, Mitre Yard, and 2 Scrubs Lane).  The London property market is flat at best, and falling in parts of Hammersmith and in Kensington.

Once the dates are known for the Examination in Public of the OPDC Local Plan, the StQW Forum will prepare our evidence to give to the Planning Inspector.   OPDC decisions attract little London-wide public attention at present, and the EIP should provide a focus for wider interest and debate on the future of this part of London.

 

OPDC publishes third version of its Draft Local Plan

The area for which the Old Oak and Park Royal Development is the local planning authority lies to the north west of the StQW neighbourhood area.  Hence we have taken a close interest in the plans of the OPDC.  This is London’s largest regeneration area and the site of the planned HS2 and Queen Elizabeth Line rail interchange.

The OPDC plans to build 25,000 new homes at Old Oak, at very high densities.  This Forum residents believe this target to be too high, and that the outcome risks being a long-term planning failure – hugely damaging to this part of London.

OPDC Local plan 19.2 Key Diagram

 

 

 

The OPDC has been preparing a Local Plan since the Corporation first took over planning responsibilities for parts of Brent, Ealing, and Hammersmith & Fulham Boroughs back in April 2015.  A ‘Regulation 18’ and ‘Regulation 19’ version of the Local Plan have already been consulted on. Major changes were sought during these consultations.  HS2, the Mayor and GLA, and Transport for London pointed out that parts of the Draft Local Plan, relating to sites at and around the planned HS2 station, were not realistic.  Major depots and other infrastructure on these sites cannot be relocated or built over, within the 2018-38 plan period.  The topography of the land also constrains development.

As a result the OPDC is consulting on a third Draft Plan.  The main changes affect the area termed ‘Old Oak South’ but there have also been significant other changes on the proposed street network and transport routes.

One element that has not changed is the 25,000 housing target, which dates from a set of revisions to the London Plan adopted in 2015.  Very little justification for this target was provided when first added to the London Plan.  Despite this, it has been treated ever since as an unalterable parameter in subsequent Draft Local Plans.

Subsequent modelling of development capacity across the OPDC area has shown that this target can be met only be building homes at extreme high densities.   The latest OPDC Draft Local Plan acknowledges an average density of 450 units/hectare across the various development sites in the plan.  This rises to 650 units per hectare in ‘Old Oak North’, where most of the land is owned by Cargiant/London & Regional Properties.

As this latest version of the Local plan is beginning to acknowledge, these very high densities  will require ‘a new London typology‘ in terms of built forms (i.e. intensive clusters of very tall towers and ‘shoulder blocks’.  A study of the Old Oak proposals by a team from Cambridge and Berkeley University points out that current OPDC proposals are ‘more akin to residential densities in Shanghai or Hong Kong than the densest parts of London’.

Quite way this part of London should be planned in this way is not explained, beyond bland statements that ‘London needs more housing’.  There are no proposals for radical improvement to the local road network, already highly congested.  Much faith is placed in the ‘connectivity’ available to new residents (post 2016) from the new station interchange.  Two new Overground stations are also promised as ‘potential’ additions to the local transport system, but no funds have yet been secured to construct these (at £150-200m apiece).

The OPDC consultation webpage, with links the Draft Plan and extensive Supporting Studies is at this link.   The StQW Forum will be responding to the consultation.  Our previous 2017 response to the Regulation 19 OPDC Local Plan can be seen here StQW response to OPDC Reg 19 Plan.

 

Latimer Road – a time for some new ideas?

One of the original aims of setting up this neighbourhood forum was to revitalise Latimer Road.   Ever since the construction of the Westway, this street has not flourished as a part of the Freston/Latimer Employment Zone, one of the Borough’s only three such zones.

Public transport access to the area is poor, and the street lacks the cafes, coffee shops and eating places that office locations need (although the arrival of the bar at the Playground Theatre has helped).  Low footfall on the street makes it less secure for residents.

New policies in the StQW Neighbourhood provide greater flexibility on permissible planning uses in the four sections of the street designated for employment use (see map below).   There is scope for Units-14 to redevelop with housing above the employment floorspace at ground and mezzanine level.

Latimer Road map, showing sections of the EZ (in purple) and location for proposed Overground station at ‘Western Circus’

The long delays on construction of the proposed pedestrian/cycle underpass between the southern end of Latimer Road and the Imperial campus in Wood Lane has not helped matters.  We are promised that Imperial College remains committed to this project, to be delivered by the third quarter of 2019.

Now in summer 2018, the Council has expressed interest in some new planning initiatives in Latimer Road, working with the StQW Forum.  Westway Trust is also carrying out a major review of its property portfolio, which includes the land at 310 Latimer Road (site of the proposed subway) as well as those parts of its estate at the Westway Sports Centre.

Thoughts and ideas from building owners in Latimer Road would be welcome.   We will convene a meeting of residents and businesses in the street in the the next couple of months, to discuss emerging ideas from the Council and the Forum.   Let us know at info@stqw,org  if you have any immediate ideas, or would be interested in attending such a meeting.

 

 

 

Legal challenge to StQW Plan defeated in the High Court

A long-running legal challenge to the St Quintin and Woodlands Neighbourhood Plan was dismissed by Mr Justice Dove, in the High Court on 12th January 2018.

Owners of a backland open space in the neighbourhood area had sought judicial review of the decision of Kensington and Chelsea Council to progress the draft neighbourhood plan to its referendum.   The referendum was held in February 2016, and the plan was supported by 92% of those voting, with a 23% turnout.  The Council has since been applying the policies in the plan.

The Legard family of North Yorkshire, as owners of one of three sites designated in the plan as Local Green Space, joined with developers Metropolis Property Ltd mounting the legal challenge.  A  planning application to build 21 townhouses on the land had been previously been deemed premature by the Council, pending publication of the neighbourhood plan.

The local authority defended its decisions, with the neighbourhood forum involved as an interested party.  After 5 days of hearings in the High Court, all three grounds of the claim were dismissed.

Previous posts give more background to this legal action.  Our view is that the landowners at Nursery Lane (the Legard family) could have avoided the whole scenario has they responded to the initial letters which we sent to them at the end of 2013, asking to discuss the future of this former nursery garden site.

Instead they chose to partner with Metropolis Property Ltd and to work up detailed proposals for a development of 20 townhouses, without so much as a single conversation with the StQW Forum.

Subsequent decisions by both parties to ignore the recommendation of the independent examiner of the StQW Draft Plan, and the referendum result on the plan, meant that substantial legal costs were incurred – on all sides.   The Council bore the brunt of costs of defending the action, and it is not yet clear whether more than a small element of their expenditure will be met by the claimants.

The Forum is very grateful to those members and local residents who contributed to fund which allowed us to retain Stephanie Hall from leading planning chambers Francis Taylor Buildings, to represent us at the High Court.   The case ran for five days rather than the expected two, and Stephanie kept her fees to the modest level which we could afford, working as a Direct Access Barrister.   This saves significant costs on use of a solicitor.

The Kensington Society also made two match funding contributions to our legal costs, at important moments.

The judgment is very detailed and cane be downloaded here https://t.co/5aAaft9oEQ.  We hope that it will give encouragement to other neighbourhood forums and parish councils preparing neighbouring plans, who find their proposals challenged by landowners or developers.

 

 

The legal case took an unusual turn, with the claimants arguing that the level and content of correspondence between the StQW forum, the council, and the independent examiner rendered the process ‘apparently biased’ and unfair.  The judgment analysed in detail the factual background to these allegations, and dismissed the three grounds of the claim.

The judge concluded that the forum had been ‘persistent’ on many issues, including some            disagreements with the Council’s planning officers.  We did indeed have to send many letters and emails to the Council, and previous posts on this website record why this became necessary.

As all those working on neighbourhood plans will know, it takes persistence to see these plans through to the finishing line.

TfL consultation on new Overground stations at Old Oak

Transport for London (TfL) are holding a public consultation on proposals for two new Overground stations at Old Oak.  The consultation is a short one, lasting from 16th October to 17th November 2017.

The details are at this link https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/london-overground/old-oak-common/?cid=old-oak-common

The locations of these proposed new stations were consulted on back in 2014, in the early days of plans for Old Oak.  The stations are intended to provide an interchange for passengers between the HS2/Queen Elizabeth Line (Crossrail) station at Old Oak Common and the London Overground network.

This interchange will be less than ideal, as neither Overground station will be adjacent to the main station (the Hythe Road station will involve a 700m walk between the two).  The business case for each station is still being developed and there is as yet no certainty on sources of funding.

The preferred option for a Hythe Road station involves a new station and railway viaduct to the north of the existing embankment. The existing embankment would be removed, opening up access between the north and southern parts of Cargiant’s 43 acres – destined to become ‘Old Oak Park’ with 6,500 new homes.

The StQW Forum will be submitting a response to the consultation.  We will be arguing that it makes more sense to create a new station at ‘Westway Circus’, the location beneath the Westway roundabout at the southern end of Latimer Road.  This proposals is advocated in the StQW Neighbourhood Plan, the RBKC Local Plan, and by the West London Line Group.

Such a station would serve the expanding Imperial College campus and the new developments under construction by St James and by Stanhope (on the BBC TV Centre site).  It would also improve public transport access for North Kensington and the StQW area, and relieve some of the traffic pressure on Wood Lane/Scrubs Lane.

A new station at Hythe Road could await the time when ‘Old Oak Park’ is built out on the Cargiant site.  Depending on the future of the London housing market post Brexit, there can be no certainty as to when Old Oak Park (and the residential towers granted approval along Scrubs Lane) will be both built and occupuied.  Until that time, an Overground station at Hythe Road would serve a limited catchment area.

The proposed Hythe Road station involves building a viaduct and new track across the Cargiant site.  Project costs are estimated at £198m at 2023 prices.  By contrast, a much simpler new station was added to the West London Line at Imperial Wharf a decade ago, at a cost of under £10m.   Hence the cost/benefits of a station at Westway Circus would seem far greater than at Hythe Road.

Ultimately, both could be provided and would be no closer together than halts on the East London Line, which has seen several new stations added at Shoreditch High Street, Hoxton, Haggerston and Dalston Junction.

If you wish to contribute views to the StQW consultation response, please email to info@stqw.org by November 10th 2017.

Cycle ‘Quietway’ proposals from RBKC

The Council has been consulting recently on the route of a proposed TfL/RBKC ‘Quietway’ route through the StQW neighbourhood.  ‘Quietway’s form part of the Mayor of London’s Cycling Grid.   The intended users are not cycling commuters but those who wish ‘to use clear, direct routes along quiet side streets’ .  They are different from the cycling superhighways, which are two-way largely segregated routes designed to bring people in and out of central London.

At the StQW/SHRA open meeting on June 9th, RBKC transport officers gave a presentation on the North Kensington section of a proposed new Quietway.  A map of the overall route is shown below.Quietway

Discussion at the meeting centred on the proposed junction where the Quietway crosses North Pole Road.  Local residents were very doubtful about the viability of the proposed junction layout, using two ‘Tiger’ crossings which are acknowledged as being experimental.

The major traffic problems in North Pole Road make it unsuitable as part of a Quietway route, in the view of local people.  There is congestion (and resultant poor driving practices) almost every day at mid and late afternoon.  Sightlines for cyclists are poor, because of parked vans and other vehicles.  Parking enforcement is weak.

The StQW Forum has written to the Council asking that two alternative routes are considered, one using Eynhaam Road and one using Highlever Road.  A copy of our letter can be found at this link StQW to RBKC re Cycle Quietway.V3 final [1225250]

The Council has assured us that these options will also be examined, before any decision is made.  The consultation on the RBKC website, with maps of each junction is at https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/parking-transport-and-streets/getting-around/cycling-and-walking/cycling-grid/mitre-lane-ledbury.   It closed on June 25th 2016.

Old Oak ‘interim forum’ is underway

A first meeting of the ‘interim’ Old Oak Neighbourhood Forum was held on May 25th, at the Woodward Hall, in North Acton.   This new body is made up of residents and businesses interested in preparing a neighbourhood plan for the Old Oak part of the OPDC area.

The meeting was chaired by Mark Walker (chair of The Island Site Residents Association (TITRA).  Henry Peterson (chair of the StQW Neighbourhood Forum) explained that it had been agreed with the OPDC that a formal application for designation of an Old Oak neighbourhood area and forum would await the outcome of the London Mayoral elections on May 5th.

While Sadiq Khan is now Mayor of London and has been appointing a new team of Deputy Mayors, it was not clear (as of May 25th) who would become the new chair of the OPDC Board.

The meeting reviewed and discussed the proposed boundary for an Old Oak neighbourhood area, and agreed a number of changes.  The map below reflects this latest thinking (the yellow line shows the proposed NP boundary, and the purple line the OPDC boundary).

Old Oak proposed NP boundary June 2016

 

The proposed boundary may well change as a result of the 6 week public consultation that will be undertaken by the OPDC and LB Hammersmith & Fulham, once a final designation application is submitted.  Residents and businesses in areas not currently included will have the opportunity to ask that their streets are added into the neighbourhood area.

This applies (for example) to the Eynham Road area, to the east of Wood Lane.  This is not currently included because this is already a designated neighbourhood area as a result of LBHF decisions made in 2013.  The Council would need to vary its previous decisions for these streets to become part of an Old Oak neighbourhood, since an area cannot lie within two designated neighbourhoods.

The latest draft of the designation application for an Old Oak neighbourhood area and neighbourhood forum can be downloaded here

Old Oak designation application.Final draft May 2016

If you are interested in joining the Old Oak interim neighbourhood forum, and live or work within the orange boundary in the map above, please email to info@stqw.org or ring 0207 460 1743 for more information.

A neighbourhood plan for Old Oak?

A group of residents associations on the borders of Wormwood Scrubs/Old Oak Common have been working together in recent months on proposals to prepare a neighbourhood plan for Old Oak.  The suggested boundary of the neighbourhood area is shown in the map below (the yellow line).OPDC area map V10 March 3rd 2016

The Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation has been the planning authority for this area, since April 2015.  The Corporation has consulted in recent months on the first draft of a Local Plan for the area.

Rather than simply responding to this and other consultations, local residents see a neighbourhood plan as a good way of identifying shared concerns over what is being planned for Old Oak, for feeding in local knowledge, and for influencing the final outcome of the OPDC Local Plan.  The idea would be for preparation of a neighbourhood plan to run alongside the next stages of the OPDC Local Plan.

The draft of a designation  application for a neighbourhood forum and neighbourhood area has been put together.  This will need to be approved by the OPDC Board and by LB Hammersmith & Fulham, for the neighbourhood plan to go ahead.

Old Oak designation application.Draft V9 April 3rd

The application will be submitted shortly after the London Mayoral election on May 5th.  The OPDC and LBHF will then organise a 6 week public consultation, seeking views on the suggested boundary for the neighbourhood area, and on establishing an Old Oak Neighbourhood Forum.

The ‘interim forum’ put together a collective response to the OPDC consultation on its Draft Local Plan, and this can be seen at the link below and on the website of the Grand Union Alliance.

RESPONSE TO OPDC DRAFT LOCAL PLAN.Final

A second version of the OPDC Local Plan will appear later this year.  Whether its policy proposals on density and building height are any different remains to be seen.  The arrival of a new Mayor of London could bring about change, as could a majority for Brexit and the resultant impact on the London property market.

Email the StQW Forum at info@stqw.org if you would be interested to know more about the proposals for the Forum, or what is happening at Old Oak.

A very good result

The level of turnout at last Thursday’s referendum is a testament to the fact that local residents care deeply about our neighbourhood.

We had been hoping that most of the 370 members of the neighbourhood forum (same membership as St Helens Residents Association) would take the trouble to vote.   But going along to a polling station, or completing a postal vote or proxy vote form, takes time and effort and has to be fitted into busy lives.   The turnout of 700 plus (including all postal votes) came as surprise.

To put a 23% turnout in context, this is not much below what happens in a local election in several wards in the Borough (in St Helens and Dalgarno wards we are more active voters, with a turnout of 34% in each ward in the 2014 local elections).

In one of the very few neighbourhood plan refererendums held to date in London (West Hampstead and Fortune Green) the turnout was a lower 14%.  This is the sort of level we were expecting.  Neighbourhood plans are unfamiliar to most people in London, although now much more common in rural and parished areas across England.

So it was very welcome to see people streaming into St Helens Church to cast their vote, having heard about the referendum from their neighbours, our flyers, or from information left with Shelley the chemist, the butchers at North Pole Road, St Helens Cafe and other venues.   Getting this neighbourhood plan in place has been a real joint effort across our London ‘village’.

One lady voter who came with her carer told me that she had lived here all her life and remembered being at the opening of the Princess Louise Hospital, by Queen Mary.  As noted in the short historical section of the StQW Plan, this event was in 1928, nearly ninety years ago.

A main aim of the StQW Plan has been to keep this pocket of London multi-generational as well as ‘neighbourly’.   More ways need to be found to enable older and younger people to stay in the area – far from easy in a housing market which increasingly excludes all but the very wealthy.  We hope that the policies and site allocations in the StQW Plan will help to achieve this aim in the coming years.

And thanks again to all who voted.

Henry Peterson, Chair StQW Neighbourhood Forum

 

Legal challenge to StQW Plan

An application has been filed for judicial review of the decision by Kensington and Chelsea Council to advance the StQW Draft Plan to a local referendum on February 25th 2016.

This is not wholly unexpected.  It was clear that some parties were going to be very unhappy about the decision of the independent examiner of the StQW Plan, that the remaining three St Quintin ‘backlands’ meet the national criteria to be designated as ‘Local Green Space’.

The judicial review application has been filed by William Legard, as one of the members of the Legard family registered as owners of the land at Nursery Lane.  It is not yet clear whether Metropolis Property Ltd, the developer who submitted a planning application last May to build 21 townhouses on this green space, will take an active part in the legal case.

The Legard family was informed in December 2013 that a neighbourhood plan for the area including their land was being prepared.   They did not respond to the query from the Forum as to their intentions for their land at Nursery Lane, but instead arranged for the site to be marketed by Knight Frank as a residential development opportunity.  

No attempt was made by the Legards, Knight Frank, or their planning consultants to discuss plans for the land with the StQW Forum.  We made very clear from the start that this site, and the two other remaining St Quintin backlands, were likely to be designated in the neighbourhood plan as Local Green Space, and were not suitable for housing development.

Such a view was hardly radical or extreme.  It followed the policy adopted by the Council in the 1990 Oxford Gardens Conservation Area Policy Statement, that these three pieces of land should not be developed for housing.

The Legards and developers Metropolis Property Ltd thought that they knew better. Detailed plans were drawn up for a housing development and exhibited locally in December 2014.  Local opposition was vociferous.  A petition to Save our Green Spaces gathered over 2,500 signatures.  At a debate at the full Council meeting in April 15th 2015, the Council committed to leaving the decision on the future of the land at Nursery Lane to the independent ‘examiner’ of the StQW Draft Plan.

At a public hearing on 22nd September, held by examiner John Parmiter FRICS MRTPi the landowners and developers had the chance to set out their case for a housing development at Nursery Lane.  The StQW Forum responded, pointing to the fact that this piece of land had never been developed, and had been rated as an agricultural hereditament during its 50 years of use by Clifton Nurseries.   The idea of it being a ‘residential development’ site was the creation of the owners and Knight Frank, seeking to exploit the enormously high values for residential land in this borough.

The independent examiner concluded that all three of the St Quintin backlands meet the tough criteria set in the National Planning Policy Framework for designation as Local Green Space.  The Council subsequently endorsed this decision, and confirmed that the StQW Draft Plan meets all the necessary legal requirements to be voted on at a local referendum.  If supported by a simple majority vote, the Draft Plan will be adopted by the Council and used when future planning decisions are made.  Local Green Space designation will give strong planning protection to all three of the remaining St Quintin backlands.

It is understandable why the Legard family are not happy at this outcome.  A lot of money must have been spent on working up a detailed planning application.  It is not clear whether the Legards or Metropolis will lose out on this.  More money is now being thrown at a legal challenge.  But the StQW Forum does not have a lot of sympathy for either landowner or developer:

  • the Legards made a previous attempt to build housing on this site. This was rejected at a planning appeal in 1982
  • this piece of land was inherited by the Legards, by marriage, from the St Quintin family who laid out this part of London in the late 19th and early 20th century. The family did not have to pay for it.
  • It was agricultural land when the streets of the St Quintin Estate were built, when the Legards inherited it, and remains so in 2016.  It is a ‘greenfield’ site in planning terms, and will remain so as Local Green Space.
  • After all these decades, the family could easily have awaited the outcome of the StQW Neighbourhood Plan, and known the up to date planning status of the land, before attempting to sell it.
  • instead, they tried to make a quick sale and see a planning application pushed through the system in order to realise a very large capital gain.

It is for the Council to defend the judicial review application and to demonstrate that its decisions on the StQW Draft Plan have been fully considered and properly made. The StQW Forum is an ‘interested party’ in the case and has retained a planning barrister to represent the forum in Court.

We hope that all our members, and other residents in the neighbourhood, will ensure a good turnout for the referendum on Thursday 25th.  Voting is at St Helens Church from 7am to 10pm.

Neighbourhood plans are all about allowing local people to decide what development should happen where in their area, on the basis of sound evidence and extensive consultation.  This is what has been achieved within the StQW Draft Plan.  It is not for a single landowner to impose their own preferred financial outcome on a collective and well-reasoned community view.