Greenwich planners slammed again by Planning Inspectorate – costs awarded against “indefensible” council

Greenwich Council residents will have to cough up yet more in compensation after Greenwich Council’s planning department came in for yet more strong criticism from the Planning Inspectorate after a string of mistakes with ANOTHER development. It’s for a block of 23 flats behind east Greenwich library.

Due to great work by the author of the Royal Greenwich Time blog, it’s revealed that the Planning Inspectorate labelled Greenwich Council’s planning failings “rather extraordinary” and highlighted their “virtual silence” during the planning process and appeal meaning taxpayers now have to pick up another bill.

Costs awarded against Greenwich Council last month due to numerous errors

Planning mistakes have been coming in thick and fast, including a phone mast near east Greenwich library and a 27-home development with zero affordable housing.

Firstly, the initial application for flats behind the former east Greenwich library was not decided within the required time period so the applicant appealed.

Then Greenwich Council’s planning department failed to submit much of the requested evidence to the appeal, much like with William Hill’s appeal for a Plumstead branch.

The Inspector doesn’t hold back, calling the council’s behaviour “indefensible” and highlighting their “virtual silence”:

This is again damning stuff. Serious errors are on show.

Now taxpayers must pay thousands of pounds due to Greenwich Council’s “unreasonable” behaviour:

It gets worse though. Greenwich Council haven’t responded to that and woeful communications are again highlighted:

It  looks like Greenwich Council didn’t even do the basics and register the application, and then failed to respond despite “repeated attempts” by the applicant:

How many times?

The Director at Greenwich Council with responsibility for Regeneration, which includes planning according to this document earns £145,000-150,000 a year according to this document from last October. They also have responsibility for parking, which has seen at least £9 million less income than budgeted for over the past five years resulting in cuts elsewhere or tax rises to plug the gap.

The Councillor whose remit planning falls into is Danny Thorpe, who is Deputy Leader, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and councillor for Shooters Hill.

In another example of systemic failures of communication, a recent blog post from the new Valley Hill hub blog in Charlton reveals that its taken eight months to gain an answer to a question on how Greenwich Council are spending their annual £3.5 million from TfL. And not a good one either.

I received an email from a reader last week of another failing in that area I’ll cover in more depth soon. Greenwich Council often excuse a lack of detail on forthcoming schemes compared to other boroughs as they’re not yet finalised.

Well, when asked how last years £3.5 million was spent they sent a threadbare document with very few details. Communications are lacking again. Almost no information was included on how much cash went on particular schemes or what it covered. In some cases no detail at all was available with simply “misc” listed.

This is millions in public money being spent year after year with very little accountability or apparent improvement shown in transparency or public engagement over time.

Councillors aren’t exactly leading from the front here with many refusing to engage online and not answering emails. They themselves are apparently not receiving adequate information from departments. But what changes are happening?

After William Hill we were told an internal investigation was underway. There’s no word on whether it will be made public. More failings are being exposed in various departments on a weekly basis right now. Any investigation should be made public. All residents know right now is that there’s many things going wrong in various departments and they are paying the price.

As a private renter with a young family, the cost of living is extremely high.

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Thank you

Murky Depths

I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

9 thoughts on “Greenwich planners slammed again by Planning Inspectorate – costs awarded against “indefensible” council

  • August 14, 2017 at 7:07 pm

    This is getting increasingly frustrating. What options do we have as residents to take action and ensure our council tax is being spend wisely and is properly accounted for? This sort of behaviour is damn right criminal. I come from Eastern Europe and such corruption would lead to arrests. Here…nothing

  • August 15, 2017 at 7:37 am

    @Murky. You can take heart in the fact that planning staff are reading this article as we speak. I know as I just walked past them.

  • August 15, 2017 at 10:38 am

    “Well, when asked how last years £3.5 million was spent they sent a threadbare document with very few details. Communications are lacking again. Almost no information was included on how much cash went on particular schemes or what it covered. In some cases no detail at all was available with simply ‘misc’ listed.”

    Wow, that’s shocking. No accountability at all. Where can we find this ‘threadbare document’?

    • August 15, 2017 at 10:41 am

      I’ll put up a post with screenshots soon

  • August 16, 2017 at 5:47 am

    There is very little accountability at Greenwich Council from people who earn exorbitant salaries for mediocre work.
    I contacted Councillor Sizwe James last year concerning additional charge points for electric vehicles and the changing of signage pertaining to charging electric vehicles. Absolutely nothing has been done!
    Where has the electric vehicle grants disappeared to?
    All new builds have to have electric vehicle charge points installed, but this is not happening. The planning department has forgotten this key part of legislation!

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  • September 13, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    Greenwich Council is utterly useless and it’s record keeping diabolical, so hardly surprising that the planning department is in disarray. My ward councillor was excellent when I contacted him and did put a rocket up the appropriate person’s backside. The problem was sorted in about 10 days. I am fed up with living in Greenwich and intend to move out of the borough soon.

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