I was somewhat disappointed by the KOV public meeting this evening. There were some good representations made by local community members re. loss of industrial land for local employment. We heard about issues relating to the cost of building public transport (and how this may not help overcrowding on the Northern Line). There were notable remarks about the need for family accommodation and discussion about avoiding high density residential housing. There were comments from various locals who are not in favour of high rise buildings and a high degree of concern about the lack of open space in Lambeth. Somebody wanted to know whether the consultation would even go anywhere, and how local concerns would really be heard and a local resident was concerned that the local estate was just seen to exist to 'do something for' in a kind of ghetto. A number of people had read and commented on the whole document (well done!), and I'm hoping their preliminary remarks might be published soon... I had hoped to write something myself, but the document is huge, and there may be too much to say.
The man from the Mayor's Office seemed disappointed with (most of) the residents, who weren't impressed by the plan, and he wants to hear alternative ideas because, as he said (and I tend to agree), the developers will just proceed inevitably because, as somebody else said, Lambeth are just a huge soft touch when it comes to granting planning permission. I wanted to ask why Lambeth Council have to consider planning permission requests before the Vauxhall Supplementary Planning Document is even finished, but it all seemed a bit pointless because everybody knows that money talks loud.
A number of local politicans spoke (Kate Hoey dropped in, which should be noted, since I'm sure there are less depressing evenings to be had), but none of the politicians or residents really sounded convinced that this inevitable lumbering project could be persuaded to change direction. Some people even seemed to think that the cost of transport would cause the developers to increase the density further, and one person said the proposed development would place a population the size of Welwyn Garden City in one sixth of the space.
Participation in the evening (as with many other consultations) seemed unrepresentative. I spotted no BME residents at all this evening (surely that must be wrong... this is Lambeth). There were too many bumbling old people who just burbled on and took ages to get to any semblance of a point (but that's just public meetings, I guess). A sense of defeat hangs heavily in the air (but that might just be my mood).
The Mayor's office want comments, but didn't invite the audience to visit County Hall and sit around the table and start drafting documents. I don't know who believes that it is possible to make any kind of difference. Everybody knows that something needs to happen in Nine Elms. There is a haven of opportunity in front of us, but nobody seems to think it's an opportunity for them.
Ahh well, tomorrow is another day.
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