On Saturday October 11th I will be participating in the Walking Out Of Darkness 10 mile walk around the London Thames Path fundraising for the charity CLASP.
CLASP raises awareness, support and funds for those suffering the stigma surrounding mental and stress related illness and suicide. The charity states that suicide is preventable with help and support.
I have set up a JustGiving page and any support for this worthwhile cause would be very welcome. There is still time to help me reach my target of £300.
I have been fitting my training around my council work as best I can.
This is an excellent cause and very timely with World Mental Health Day on Friday 10th.
I am also very proud that Lib Dem-run Sutton Council has launched its Our Place! project which seeks to turn Central Sutton into a ‘mental health friendly community’ in which professionals, businesses and residents all have a role in supporting people with mental health issues.
The Council has a range of activities scheduled to mark World Mental Health Day in Sutton.
7.25am 8th October 2014
There has been an accident at the junction of Stafford Road with Mollison Drive (near Wilsons School) which has led to road closures. This will disrupt the morning commute and motorists are advised to seek alternative routes to work.
The road is now open.
The Sutton Guardian has more information here.
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) issued a Technical Consultation on Planning in July this year. The consultation seeks views on proposals to amend the process for Neighbourhood Planning, further extend Permitted Development Rights, changes to the way Planning Conditions are made, changes to engagement with Statutory Consultees, raise the environmental impact assessment screening thresholds and amendments to Development Consent Orders.
I and my colleagues at Sutton have spoken out on a number of occasions against the extension of permitted development rights, both because it erodes the ability of local people to have their say on how development affects them, and because in practice it does not succeed in delivering its intended aspirations.
The letter accompanying our formal response to the consultation sets our position out clearly:
Date: 26 September 2014
The Rt Hon Mr Eric Pickles MP
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
Department of Communities and Local Government
Dear Mr Pickles
RE: TECHNICAL CONSULTATION ON PLANNING (July-September 2014)
The London Borough of Sutton has submitted a schedule of responses to the above consultation from a technical standpoint but I would like to register the London Borough of Sutton’s and my disappointment at the overall policy direction of these proposed changes.
First, many of the proposed changes appear to run contrary to the Government’s own Core Planning Principles as set out in Paragraph 17 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). For example, the proposed changes to make prior approvals for larger extensions permanent and for larger arrays of solar panels will not “secure high quality design”, as stated in the fourth bullet point of Paragraph 17. The proposed permitted development rights for various commercial and retail uses to convert to residential uses will neither be “promoting the vitality of our main urban areas”, as stated in the fifth bullet point, nor will “promote mixed use development”, as stated in the ninth bullet point.
The London Borough of Sutton is concerned that these proposed changes to national planning policy, read in conjunction with the NPPF, are failing give a clear indication of the Government’s overall planning strategy. As a result, these mixed messages are producing uncertainty within the development industry and, consequently, hindering economic development.
Second, the council is concerned that the prior approval/permitted development right process is not producing the right sort of development for the borough and further prior approval/permitted development rights will have a similarly detrimental effect. In common with other south-western London boroughs, the permitted development right for offices to convert to residential uses is having a ruinous effect on the local economy. As of 1 August 2014, the council had granted prior approval for 52 conversions (a potential 64,096sq m loss of office floorspace) and 29 of the conversions were occupied or part-occupied offices.
Furthermore, approximately 70% of the housing units being created, many of which are sub-standard in terms of size and design, are one-bedroom market units when the greatest need locally is for one-bedroom affordable rented housing (starter houses) and 2-bed and 4-bed market housing. As I am sure our neighbouring boroughs (Richmond, Kingston, Merton and Croydon) will also attest, the policy may be suitable for some areas of the country but not for this part of outer London.
Third, the technical changes make no effort to deal with the housing affordability crisis. There are no incentives to provide affordable housing, which is so badly needed in London. Indeed, the proposed expansion of the prior approval/permitted development right regime will result in fewer affordable housing units being delivered than at present. Given the constraints of large existing housing estates and Green Belt, there is little available land in the borough for the Government to build its way out of the housing affordability crisis and so interventions in the housing market, rather than construction, are the most effective solutions.
However, the council does not wish to be totally negative and suggests that the Government could easily solve the issues outlined above with a greater devolution of powers to local authorities and allowing local issues to be solved at a local level. The council already has a pro-growth agenda but would like more powers to implement its agenda fully. Through the council’s economic renewal and regeneration programme, Opportunity Sutton, the council is providing an unambiguous signal that the borough is a place to start and grow businesses. The council’s Development Plan, adopted in 2009-2012, identifies the vacant offices as site allocations for mixed-use development and promotes the modernisation of other offices so that local companies can remain competitive and recruit staff. The council is also establishing a development company to provide affordable family housing – a product the free market seems unable to deliver. These actions show that local problems are better solved by local authorities and that local authorities, such as Sutton, could be more pro-active with even more powers.
Therefore, the council would like to suggest that the Government should stay true to its word regarding localism: stop issuing top-down diktats about planning minutiae, give local authorities the powers to address local issues and return powers to local residents so they have a say about how their area should develop. As we have seen with the office to residential conversion situation, what suits one part of the England may not suit another. What is suitable for Sunderland or Suffolk may not necessarily be successful in Sutton.
Cllr Jayne McCoy
Chair of Housing, Economy and Business Committee
We reported this problem to Transport for London and they have now adjusted the wait times to be less at quieter times of the day. There may still be a longer wait at peak hours to allow flow through of traffic.
We have since had reported that the beep on this crossing has gone very quiet again, so we have asked Transport for London to fix this too – hopefully for good as it has been adjusted on at least two previous occasions.
If you have mobility problems then your input will be very helpful for the engineers and designers of bus stops in the capital.
The consultation runs until 31st October 2014.
Make sure you have your say.
There is an application in to demolish the existing Methodist church in Beddington Gardens at the junction with Shotfield and build a new modern church.
The Church members made a presentation of the proposals to councillors, the MP and local residents earlier this year and explained the rationale behind the plans. We heard that the Church could no longer afford to maintain the existing building, which required significant investment, and with a lot of soul-searching had agreed that the way forward was to build a new church. This would incorporate better facilities for community work as well as worship, and the cost would be supported by the development of new flats also planned to be developed on the site.
The application for the new church only was submitted over the summer, and will be decided at the Planning Committee on Wednesday 17th September Meeting Room 1 at Civic Offices in Sutton.
Only eight objection letters have been received, largely from residents living close by. Naturally these express concern about the loss of the existing church building, as well as having concerns about parking and access.
Comments can still be submitted up to the date of the committee, and there is an opportunity for resident representatives to speak at the Planning Committee as long as notice is given. The application can be viewed and commented on here.
As a result of residents contacting the ward councillors with their concerns we have arranged an informal meeting in advance of the Planning Committee with representatives of the Church and local residents to further discuss the plans and answer any questions. Any additional local residents who would like to attend to learn more would be welcome, but please contact me first so I know the numbers to expect. The meeting will be this Saturday 13th September at the church itself.
UPDATE FROM PLANNING COMMITTEE MEETING
The councillors on the Planning Committee unanimously voted to grant approval of the planning application to demolish and rebuild the Methodist Church on Beddington Gardens. However the Chairman advised that it was with heavy heart as he was a member of a group that seeks to retain traditional churches, but there were no valid planning grounds on which to refuse the application.
Residents from Embassy Court were able to speak to the committee to express their concerns about the plans and the impact on the area including the traffic issues.
I also spoke about the design aspects and answered questions on the traffic impact.
As a result the Committee did require that the applicants review the plans in respect of the wall facing onto Shotfield to include some landscaping to soften the aspect of the church opposite Embassy Court. It also sought reassurances that historic aspects of the church such as the WW1 stained glass window be incorporated into the new church, which the Reverend Amankwatia, speaking at the meeting, was able to give.
After the meeting representatives of the Church and the project manager spoke with residents who attended and indicated that they wanted to work with planning officers and local residents to make amendments that they would be happy with.
Hopefully this more collaborative working will pay off when the church submits its plans for the residential part of the development.
Sutton is offering a business rate reduction of 50% for one year to new or expanding businesses occupying empty premises in Sutton town centre. Alongside that offer Opportunity Sutton, the Council’s business and investment support arm is offering a range of clinics and workshops to give business advice and help people create their business plans.
To promote the offer a mock-up of a florist was set up in the High Street to entice people to think about setting up shop in the town centre.
This local offer complements the Governments new national assistance for small businesses across the borough in the form of additional business rate reliefs.
For more information or to apply for the relief visit the Opportunity Sutton website or call 020 8770 5000 and ask for Opportunity Sutton.
You can also access business support and advice via the Sutton Business Support Programme.
I was very pleased to be able to attend this touching event marking the centenary of the start of World War One. The ceremony also unveiled the new World War Two memorial stone. Members of the public were invited to float poppies on the ponds in memory of those who had lost their lives in the wars, or had since died. I sent my poppies in remembrance of my Godfather Albert Hall, a tank driver in the Royal Artillery and a veteran of the Battle of Anzio. He was an active member of the Royal British Legion and died in 2010 at the age of 89.
The council has to find up to £40m worth of savings from its annual budget in the next five years.
This is in addition to £32m already saved since 2011.
We have taken a careful and measured approach to the budget in difficult circumstances and squeezed all we can to protect frontline services and vulnerable citizens. But this cannot be sustained given the scale of further funding reductions.
We need your help to shape Sutton’s Future.
Sutton’s Future is an opportunity to have your say on the challenges facing us.
Please visit the Sutton’s Future website and complete our Sutton’s Future Survey to let us know your views about council services and what is important you.
There are also a number of events that you can attend to ask questions and have your say:
Please join the conversation with Cllr Ruth Dombey and other leading Councillors
Wednesday 30 July from 7.30 – 8.30pm
Meeting Room 1
St Nicholas Way
RSVP by Wednesday 23 July to firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 020 8770 5000.
Follow the discussion live on Twitter #suttonsfuture
Local Area Committee Events
|Sutton South Cheam and Belmont||11 September 2014||7pm, Chiltern Church|
|Sutton||16 September 2014||7pm, Salvation Army|
|St Helier, the Wrythe and Wandle Valley||16 October 2014||7pm, Riverside Centre|
|Beddington and Wallington||21 October 2014||7pm, Beddington Park Primary School|
|Cheam North and Worcester Park||23 October 2014||7pm, Christchurch with St Philip|
|Carshalton and Clockhouse||4 November 2014||7.30pm, Venue TBC|