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Waiting for the ghost bus
NO NEED FOR NIMBYS
I was pleased to see Ken Worpoles piece in the last N16 and in particular his comments about the innovative Red Square development between Church Street and Carysfort Road. While Im sure everyone appreciated the irony in the advertising, what sticks in my mind most from the process was the incredible small-mindedness of the NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard) who opposed it.
He also referred to the application for residential, live/work and gym units on the former Defoe Road Depot site. Residents may be interested to know that so far the Council has rejected at least four applications as unsuitable. The developer has appealed the most recent decisions and so were now in the hands of the Planning Inspector wholl hear the appeal. The one area where I must take issue with him is on his suggestion that in some way planning conditions are imposed principally to attract income. On one level I desperately wish that were possible, but as he should know, in law they must in the words of the current guidance, be relevant, necessary, enforceable, precise and reasonable.
An applicant can appeal against any that they consider are not. The only one in common use is to require the developer to pay for the reinstatement of the footway once building work is completed. We have in the past attempted to use them more creatively, for example to fund employment training or nursery provision, but various court judgements in favour of developers have severely limited the potential for that. A new national or regional framework and the associated powers, would be very welcome.
I do strongly agree with his comments on affordable housing. The current policy is to normally require only 25% of a development of 15 units and above. This needs to be revised as part of the current review of the overall local statement of planning policies, the Unitary Development Plan (UDP), I to reflect the high priority given to retaining socially I mixed communities I throughout current I government policy.
Ive also been Secretary of the boroughs local strategic partnership for the past several years, and our partners in the police, health, education, transport and other services report this as an ever increasing problem. While we have successfully been able to make some provision in areas covered by particular regeneration regimes, in Stoke Newington it is a tougher requirement in the new UDP which will be crucial.
Finally I was particularly pleased by his comments on the new lighthouse building at the corner of Newington Green and Albion Road (incidentally known internally as Jules Pipe Towers after the personal role our glorious Council Leader played in getting it through!). It does represent some of what the best of the present planning system can achieve. The local medical practice was relocated to a bigger and more modern building; the restaurant unit provides an opportunity to improve the area; all the low level units are social housing; and the tower units helped subsidise the rest.
Needless to say however, it met the same NIMBY reaction from some at the time. Many correspondents have pointed it out before, but some Stokey Folks life would be so empty without something to complain about!
Brian Bell is Secretary of Stoke Newington Neighbourhood (planning) Committee. This is written in a personal capacity