Greenwich planners are recommending that 24 new homes at a former tram yard off Lakedale Road be approved.
I first covered plans back in February 2021, and as the first application before the council’s planning board since the authority adopted another strategy aimed at encouraging walking and active living, have council departments actually focused on this area using related income?
Absolutely nothing is allocated for improved public realm. £31,700 is allocated to GLLaB.
It’s the first test of the council’s Carbon Reduction report of 2021 and again the council’s statements on investment for improve public space and streets appear hollow, much as they were after the 2016 Greener Greenwich report and the 2019 Physical Activity and Sport Strategy and Action Plan.
For anyone who knows Lakedale Road (I’m guessing many in the council do not) it’s not exactly a great stretch of road, with pavement clutter and illegally parked cars. There’s pretty much no greenery.
Instead of pushing for some enforcement of parking, in an accompanying report Greenwich Highways seem more concerned with the number of parking spaces.
There is a multi-million pound project that is supposed to upgrade Plumstead High Street, though much of Lakedale Road is ignored despite being lined with shops and busy supermarkets.
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Greenwich Council Highways Department have a long track record of apparently thinking “highways” only mean roads and what’s between kerbs rather than the entire street including footways. Hence why so many streets and public spaces are so poor.
This development could have complimented the Plumstead High Street scheme with some modest improvements, but no.
It follows recent approvals whereby the Planning Department failed to allocate any Section 106 income from 1,750 new homes to improve pedestrian links to Plumstead High Street and Plumstead railway station and major bus routes outside.
Then shortly after they again failed to allocate any S106 income from a new Thamesmead development to Plumstead shops and the station.
Plans to improve the gyratory have been scrapped. No such initiatives such as those seen in Brent, which used developer income to improve road layouts as new homes were built:
This latest application also makes rudimentary errors on other forms of income such as the Community Infrastructure Levy. The Planning Department’s report states it’s in Zone 1 and liable for £70 per square metre.
It’s not. It’s in Zone 2 and £40 per square metre.
Not knowing what zone it’s in is a basic error.
However when it comes to this major source of income Greenwich Council have form. In the last year we have comparable data for all of London, Greenwich are at (or near) the foot of all London boroughs.
The authority later stated they were not at the foot of the London table, yet gave inaccurate figures to Greenwich councillors.
They claimed they’d obtained more than neighbouring Lewisham, but only by ignoring the latest numbers from Lewisham but including Greenwich. When like-for-like, Lewisham were comfortably ahead.
The latest figures for income via this funding source which can improve health, education, public realm and much else, shows Greenwich raised an incredibly low amount in 2020/21. We’ll need to wait for other authorities to see just how badly they again compare.
As shown in Brent, income from new developments can be used for projects such as street improvements or healthcare:
With Greenwich collecting so little income, this type of project isn’t happening.
The £10 million above in Brent for healthcare alone is more than Greenwich have received in six years.
An authority with high levels of building such as Greenwich should never be so low for income, yet the authority have never updated their 2015 charges and appear to have failed to collect income at a number of developments.
A cursory look earlier this year already found £1.8 million. They also stated some major developments such as Kidbrooke Village pre-date the levy, yet then their own reports list those developments as paying.
The Planning Department continuing to ignore their own council reports and making basic errors happens on an almost monthly basis with no change of those in charge. Earlier this year they released a crucial report three years late and full of errors.
It’s a pretty dry document named the Site Allocation Strategy but is key to the location of future housing, retail, schools, healthcare and industry. Sadly it’s also full or mistakes.
To give one example is Abbey Wood telephone exchange. The report stated “The building is surplus to requirements as a telephone exchange. The site is currently in use in association with Crossrail works; this use is expected to cease by the end of 2019.”
Every single part of that is wrong. And note the mention of 2019 in a 2021 report.
Errors listed in 2019 draft were there two years later in the final adopted strategy.
So here we are again, as the same department producing a report before the council’s Planning Board again does nothing for active travel in doing so ignores the Carbon Reduction report Greenwich councillors were slapping each other on the back about last month (will they raise that another application ignoring it?) and including basic mistakes on levels of develop payment.
UPDATE: I almost forgot how bad they are when it comes to another funding pot – the Local Implementation Plan – which uses income from new developments to improve streets and tops up TfL funding. This is over three years and also includes revenue from parking:
- Greenwich – £206k
- Lewisham – £1.33m
- Lambeth – £1.2m
- Southwark – £765k
- Ealing – £766k
- Brent – £6 million
- Camden – £5.26m
- Hounslow – £5.3m
- Hammersmith & Fulham – £27.2m