Last week at the Community Forum for the Elephant Regeneration, Southwark Council rejected a proposal from the Elephant Amenity Network that the planning committee meeting deciding on the Heygate Outline Masterplan application (12-AP-1092) should be held over 2 or 3 evenings.

Planning committee meetings in Southwark allocate a total of 3 minutes for all objectors to make their case - so if there are 3 objectors each gets a one minute slot, six objectors get 30 seconds each and so on. There are at least 150 objectors to the masterplan application.

The chair of the planning committee, Cllr Nick Dolezal and the Head of Development Control, Gary Rice, both argued that this arrangement would be entirely sufficient for objectors to get their views across. While it didn’t give much time for objectors initially, they could rely on the well-briefed committee councillors asking them the right follow-on questions, and so get a fair hearing.

We have our doubts that councillors will be so obliging, and wonder – what are Southwark Council so worried about?

Part of the answer could be the several areas of ‘non-compliance’ in the application identified by the Greater London Authority, chief among them the lack of affordable housing, - ‘The application does not propose any affordable housing provision at present’ para 42 (link to GLA letter 11 July 2012). A revision of the application is said to be imminent and could include a commitment to 25% affordable housing – better than the original application, but still not the 35% Southwark’s affordable housing policy requires. There are also worrying signs that ‘affordable rent’ may replace some or all of the ‘social rented’ provision – a difference in rent of about £240 pw against about £90pw, for a one-bed flat.

The planning committee meeting to decide the application is provisionally set for 27 Nov 2012. Objections to the application, including the preposterous committee meeting arrangements, can be made up to the date of the meeting – email planning.applications@southwark.gov.uk