Diary of a Sutton Councillor

Wallington South Ward Councillors’ Summer Update

Who would have believed back in March 2020, that we would still be battling the Covid pandemic in July 2021 after over a year of significant changes to our way of life? We missed our overseas holidays last year, and many will have to forgo them again this year. If we want 2022 to allow us a lot more freedoms then we all still need to take a cautious approach to the lifting of restrictions, and also a selfless one as the wearing of masks protects others, not ourselves.

Covid is not the only major threat to our way of life. The wildfires, floods and soaring temperatures in Greece, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands and Russia make the impacts of global warning feel a lot closer to home. Flash flooding and thunderstorms are becoming more common in the UK and we will need to be prepared for more potential extreme events.

As with Covid, the only response is to adapt our own behaviour, and push the government to use a mix of regulation and investment to drive industry and science to make the changes and innovations to enable us all to live more sustainably.

WARD NEWS

Bin collections disrupted by national driver shortage

We have received a number of complaints about bins being uncollected in recent weeks. This is due to a national HGV driver shortage and other councils are experiencing similar problems.

To try to keep on top of collections Veolia are asking drivers to work the maximum weekly hours, additional staff working weekends and overtime, and pooling staff from other contracts. There is also a major driver recruitment programme underway.

Most affected are communal collections at flats, with delayed collections, sometimes until the weekend, including on Sundays.

The online Report it function is updated to note delayed collection schedules but if your waste goes two weeks without collection get in touch with us for us to chase up.

Bandon Hill School Street in Beddington Gardens

The consultation following the Beddington Gardens school street trial showed a large majority of parents and local residents were in favour of the scheme. This means the school street scheme will be reinstated and effective from the October half term this year, subject to the formal statutory process.

The restrictions will prevent motor vehicle entry to Beddington Gardens west of Boundary Road  from 8:15am till 9:30 am and 2:15pm till 3:30pm weekdays during term time, enforced by automated number plate recognition cameras (ANPRs).There will be exemptions for residents and carers, SEND vehicles and emergency services.

Budget pressure sees library car park charges increase

Through ten years of austerity and massive cuts to government funding for councils we managed to keep the half an hour free parking at Wallington Library car park. Unfortunately, the additional financial pressures from dealing with the pandemic and government failure to properly fund social care means we can no longer argue for Wallington to be treated differently from other district centre car parks.

This year all the car park charges will be aligned and increased slightly. This still keeps Sutton as having some of the lowest parking charges in London.

This move also fits with the council’s aim to improve air quality by encouraging residents to make healthier choices about how they travel to their local high street.

There are still a good number of short stay free parking spaces in Ross Parade, Shotfield and along Stafford Road. There are plenty of disabled parking spaces in the library car park and on surrounding streets. So people wishing to use their cars will still have a choice to use free spaces that is far in excess of the numbers in other district centres, in addition to the excellent public transport links in Wallington, another reason we found it hard to argue for special treatment for Wallington district centre.

I know that some people will be concerned about the impact on local shops. Studies show that people who walk, cycle or use public transport to travel to a district centre tend to spend more per visit than those who drive. Indeed the 30 minute free parking could be detrimental to local businesses as it encourages visitors to only stay for half an hour as it is free. This stops them from lingering for a coffee or lunch, or browsing other shops and instead sees them attend to their immediate business and then rush back to their cars.

Grass verge cutting

The council’s contractors IDVerde have experienced some staff shortages that combined with weather conditions has delayed the cutting of grass verges and mowing in parks. To catch up on the schedule IDVerde are using additional subcontracted labour and are working weekends.

The cut grass is left in situ to mulch down as the most environmentally approach, but with the grass being longer than usual this may look a bit messy for a while.

The Council is trialling biodiversity verges in a few locations around the borough. Biodiversity verges will have a different mowing regime designed to encourage wildflowers to thrive and set seed, which is beneficial to birds, insects and other wildlife. Reduced mowing also saves on fuel and exhaust emissions too.

These verges will be cut towards the end of August and all the arising will be cleared away.

The verges will then be mowed again in the autumn and possibly again in the early spring if the grass starts into growth. This means the verges will flower to benefit wildlife during the spring and summer, but then be tidied up again for the autumn and winter period.

Iceland Summer Event Saturday 21st August

Our Wallington Iceland store has arranged a special summer event to raise funds for Home-Start Sutton as their charity which is also a Mayor’s Charity.

This will take place in the afternoon in front of the Old Town Hall with stalls, Tombola and the Met Police Bus.

Do come along and show your support to help this excellent local charity.

Double Yellow Line painting

As a result of the Parking Consultation double yellow lines will be introduced to all junctions where they are not currently, to improve sightlines and safety, and yellow lines proposed for most of Woodcote Road, and in Stanley Park Road close to schools and the roundabout. The lining works in Wallington will take place during July and August so please observe any temporary parking restrictions to enable this work to be done.

Greenbelt reprieve as care home development rejected

Sutton Council Planning Committee refused the application to build a 70-bed care home on Woodcote Greenbelt land behind Wallington Girls School.

Jayne spoke at the meeting objecting to the application due to its encroachment on the Greenbelt and overdevelopment of the site.

The claims by the developer that there was a need for a dementia care home that overruled the Greenbelt status protecting it from residential development was refuted by the Head of Adult Social Care who had advised there was an oversupply of such provision in the borough.

Local resident Mr Simms also spoke at the meeting and pointed out the same developer was building a care home less than a mile away in Purley.

I know local residents affected by the development and all those who want to preserve our precious Greenbelt will be pleased that the Committee supported the officer decision to refuse.

Tackling litter hot spot at Charlotte Road

The litter bin in Charlotte Road close to the junction with Stafford Road is proving to be an attractor for flytipping. Waste illegally left here often contains food so the bags are regularly ripped open by foxes and strewn across the street. It is extremely unpleasant for local residents and their children to wade through this mess everyday on their way to school or work.

Your ward councillors have been working with the council to put a stop to flytipping here. Regulatory services have carried out enforcement visits to the local shops and takeaways to confirm they have trade waste arrangements in place and advise that any waste left by the bins constitutes flytipping.

Flats above shops are provided with marked bags that they are authorised to leave by the bin for collection on one agreed day per week, but no other waste should be left here.

We have also asked for additional street cleaning of this area, and continual monitoring to catch the flytippers.

The council is also cracking down on littering and anyone caught dumping their rubbish or takeaway packaging in the road will be liable to a hefty fine.

Wallington Mini-Music Festival this September 18th

We very sadly had to cancel last year’s Wallington Music Festival. This year it is back, but in light of the ongoing concerns about the virus we will be limiting it to a daytime event in the Wallington Library Gardens, and postponed it to September.

There will still be food and drink stalls and free entertainment for all the family. Bring a picnic and a blanket and enjoy our exceptional local talent.

Thanks to the All In Wallington team for continuing to organise this free local event, and to Carpentors Solicitors for once again generously sponsoring the event.

The Mayor of Sutton Cllr Trish Fivey will attend to open the event.

Wallington comes together to Support the England Team

It was lovely to see the community come together to support our England Football Team as they geared up for the final game of the Euros against Italy. We gathered red and white T-shirts, some with good luck messages to the team, and made them into a giant England flag in front of the old town hall.

Sadly England couldn’t quite best the experience of the unbeaten Italian team, but our boys did us proud and we can dream of glory for the World Cup.

Ward Surgeries and casework

We suspended our face to face councillor ward surgeries during the pandemic. However, we hope to return to in-person surgeries in Wallington Sainsburys from September. Do stop by to say hello, we have missed you.

We can also undertake site visits and meetings to discuss casework issues. Contact us via email or telephone as usual.

BOROUGH NEWS

Changes to the Kimpton Way Household Reuse & Recycling Centre

The booking system will continue as it has proved popular and minimising queuing into the centre. However the centre has sadly been misused by some commercial companies which are disposing of their commercial waste at the taxpayer’s expense.

To address this a fair use policy has been introduced limiting residents to 12 bookings in a calendar year.  Thanks to the booking system we have a better idea of the number of times that residents use this site. The vast majority (96%) of residents use the HRRC less than 12 times a year and 50% use it once only, so there are many opportunities for them to increase usage and their recycling frequency.

For any resident who has a genuine need to use the HRRC more than 12 times a year, they can contact the Council who can provide them with advice and support. The Council is willing to be flexible to address genuine need when there are exceptional circumstances.

Free school meals in school holidays

The council will continue to provide free school meals over the summer holidays to eligible families. Parents of children who are already registered to receive free school meals do not need to apply. Other low-income with pre-school or home-educated families may also be eligible and should visit the council website to apply.

WARD PLANNING NEWS

DM2020/01805  Land At Woodcote Green Garden Centre Woodmansterne Lane Wallington SM6 0SU Demolition of existing structures, and erection of a two storey nursing home comprising 70 bedrooms, car parking, cycle storage, bin storage, access, landscaping and other associated works Refused by Planning Committee 7th July 2021

DM2020/01589 31-35 Stafford Road Wallington SM6 9AP (old BP Garage site) Prior Approval in relation to the erection of 2 new floors to provide 10 self contained residential units. Prior approval refused

DM2020/00450 Monarch House 7 Stafford Road Wallington SM6 9AN Erection of a single storey rear conservatory, enclosure of under croft to form additional office floor space, alteration to parking, vehicle access from Onslow Gardens with new gates and boundary treatment. Still pending decision

New Applications:

DM2021/01033 1 Elgin Road Wallington SM6 8RE Erection of a two storey detached dwellinghouse

DM2021/00985 6 Woodcote Road Wallington SM6 0NN Change of use of 1st floor to 7 room larger HMO Conversion of upper floors of previous Wallington Arms to residential

DM2021/00526 74 Park Hill Road Wallington SM6 0RQ Erection of a detached dwelling with associated access, parking and landscaping Backgarden development

DM2021/00429 Roy Smith Garage Ltd Elgin Road Wallington SM6 8RE Demolition of existing garage and existing building and erection of two two-storey detached buildings (one with roof accommodation) to provide 8 self contained residential units with car parking

DM2021/00224 13 Milton Road Wallington SM6 9RP  Change of use from C4 to Sui Generis for use as a larger House in Multiple Occupation, erection of a single storey rear extension and conversion of loft space involving alterations a dormer extension at rear and rooflights to front roofslope

We hope you find our updates useful. Feel free to pass them on to your friends and neighbours if you think they will be of interest. Continue to stay safe.

Cllr Steve Cook, Cllr Jayne McCoy & Cllr Muhammad Sadiq

Your Lib Dem team for Wallington South

P.S. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if there is anything we can do to help: wallingtonsouth.libdems@gmail.com

July 28, 2021 Posted by | Information | , | Leave a comment

Response to Motion on SDEN

This was my speech in response to the Conservative motion on SDEN:

As you can see, our amendment fully supports the resolution to initiate an independent investigation into the issues noted in the motion.


We are happy to do this because we have complete faith in the integrity of the modelling, the integrity and competence of the officers involved in the work, the professional expertise of KPMG who reviewed the model, and the democratic processes that relied on it.


But serious allegations have been made publicly, and in writing, challenging the integrity of the work and all those people involved.


At a previous council meeting Cllr Crowley claimed there had been false accounting. Now that is a very serious accusation that if true could lead to imprisonment of those involved in such activity. Such allegations should therefore never be made lightly nor be taken lightly.


That is why our amendment is clear that these are all allegations, not facts, nor indeed are they just harmless ‘comments’ as such ‘comments’ have consequences.


Some of the claims have already been strongly rebutted. However, opposition members remain determined in their efforts to undermine this project, a project which this council should rightly be proud of, as it demonstrates a significant commitment to reducing our impact on the planet and providing our residents with an alternative to using fossil fuels.


Instead we are having to fight off repeated and inaccurate claims with the deliberate aim of damaging reputations.


The first claim made in the opposition’s motion is based on the assumption that the financial model needed to achieve a certain internal rate of return in order to obtain funding. That allegation
is factually wrong. Public Works Loan Board funding can be obtained to support any project irrespective of its IRR. A decision could have been made that the project would be subsidised by the council and that funding would still be accessible.


The other claim is that ‘extra’ buildings were used in the modelling.
This claim of ‘extra’ buildings relates to a residential care home that was included in the outline planning application. This was later changed by Barratts to Assisted Living Accommodation. As my colleagues on the People Committee will be aware, Assisted Living is the more modern equivalent of a care home. So the change was purely in name, and the energy consumption attributed to each is exactly the same. Thus the change had no impact on the model.


These examples, specifically cited in the motion, demonstrate the fragility of the allegations being made.


You might ask if they are so easily dismissed, why would we agree to an investigation?
The reason is because these allegations have been repeated publicly, on social media and directly to residents. Such allegations damage the reputation of the council, and the reputation of its company SDEN.


It is also damaging and demoralizing for officers, and organisations, involved with the project, and damages their professional reputations too.


The resulting stress and the challenge to officers’ integrity and hard work cannot be accepted as just collateral damage in a political smear campaign. Allegations with such consequences must be challenged, and when they persist in the face of evidence to the contrary, the only option is an independent review.


There has been no denial that the project has encountered its difficulties. An infrastructure project of this size would be unusual if it had not. The delayed build out of the site has eroded projected profits considerably, and the large number of outages has caused considerable concern for residents and the council alike.
All efforts are being put into working with Barratts to prevent further outages and the more recent pressure drops, and senior SDEN staff have been on site to apologise and explain the situation to residents.


So we are agreeing with the opposition that an investigation is needed to put to bed the concerns about SDEN, and I hope they will agree with me, that when the investigation clears the council and officers of any wrongdoing, as I have no doubt it will, that all these allegations of fraud, false accounting and mispractice are fully retracted and cease to be repeated.

Please support the motion as amended.

Notes

Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) funding is available to councils. Councils can apply for the funding to support capital projects. Companies owned by councils cannot apply directly for the funding so the funds would be drawn down by the council.

Cllr Nick Mattey has led a campaign to undermine and discredit the decentralised energy project from the moment he heard about it. He was a member of the Housing, Economy and Business Committee at the time it was considering whether to give the project the go ahead. (Cllr Mattey had applied to be chair of this committee within weeks of his election as a new councillor. He also applied for chair of the Environment & Neighbourhoods Committee at the same time. He was unsuccessful in both bids.) He pronounced at a meeting when members were being briefed on the project that the business case would never work, and the council should be investing in solar instead. This was before members had seen the business case.

Since then he has never varied from this stance, and gone to great lengths to prove his prediction right, including setting up a fake SDEN website, contacting developers telling them not to deal with the council, protesting outside estate agents marketing properties to be supplied by SDEN, telling customers they are being ripped off and submitting numerous FOIs and enquires tying up officers’ time to feed his conspiracy theories.

Conservative members have ridden on the back of this campaign to help ‘fuel the fire’.

One early FOI Cllr Mattey submitted was to release the financial model used to inform the decision to progress with SDEN. This was at a time when contracts with third parties were still being negotiated and the model contained commercially sensitive information. An FOI means that the information is publically available. However as a member of the committee at the time Cllr Mattey already had that information under his privilege as a councillor. The council had to spend significant money preventing public release of this information until after all contracts had been agreed.

The key claim underlying the Conservative motion is that information subject to a review by KPMG, one of the big four international accountancy and consultancy firms, was deliberately falsified by the council to ensure the project went ahead. The KPMG review compared both the original and revised financial models and dug deep into the assumptions behind them and the changes. The Conservative’s premise that the council would be willing to invest millions in a project if the figures showed it could never cover its costs at a time when council budgets were under unprecedented pressure is ridiculous at best, and I will look forward to hearing KPMG’s response to the idea that a little council like Sutton could pull the wool over the eyes of an organisation whose very premise is to detect fraud and false accounting.

The other myth is that the planning permission for the Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) was dependent on delivering a district heating system, but this was not a condition of the permission.

July 15, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wallington South Ward Councillors’ Winter Update

It feels a little difficult to be positive following the news that we are now in the most restrictive Tier 4 thanks to the highly infectious new variant of the coronavirus. Christmas is a time of family and festivity bringing warmth at the darkest point of winter, and it feels cruel that this virus has denied many of us that comfort.

There will be many of you grieving loved ones, or missing those you have been separated from for too long. Some will be facing unemployment and an uncertain future. Far too many will struggle to afford to feed their families, or keep a roof over their heads. Few of us will be untouched by the events of the last year.

So perhaps all we can ask, with that in mind, is that we all be kind to each other. Not just with actions, but also in words. We can’t take away the pain, or solve all the problems, but we can all be a little kinder to each other.

We hope you can all find a little light in this darkness over the Christmas period.

WARD NEWS

Results of the Parking Strategy Consultation

The first consultation confirmed that parking was an issue in the area that residents wished to see solutions for. Following discussions with residents and officers, proposals were put forward for a Free Bay parking scheme for the Ross Road area, and residents asked to feedback their views. Despite our promotion of the consultation supplementing the council’s communications, the response to the consultation was quite low. This demonstrated insufficient support for a free bay scheme so it has been confirmed that no parking scheme will be introduced in this area.

However, part of the work supporting the scheme was for officers to review the parking restrictions across the area. As a result double yellow lines will be introduced to all junctions where they are not currently, to improve sightlines and safety, and yellow lines proposed for most of Woodcote Road, and in Stanley Park Road close to schools and the roundabout. These plans are required to go through a formal TMO consultation so look out for notices and submit your comments if you do not think the lines are in the right places.

Residents See Off Unsightly Phone Mast

Numerous objections and a petition from local residents has seen permission for a mobile phone mast refused by the council.

Hutchinson 3G were planning to place a 15m tall mobile phone mast and numerous unsightly cabinets in Brambledown Road in Wallington. Objections were raised about the ugliness and intrusiveness of the mast and cabinets on a residential street, and the fact that the applicants had ignored other, more appropriate, sites highlighted for phone masts by council planners.

Letters of objection were submitted from 42 local residents together with a petition with 177 signatures. The ward councillors also objected to the location of the mast.

Sutton Council’s Planning Team agreed with residents about the unsuitability of the location and refused the application.

Town Hall Clock back on time

Many residents noticed that the Wallington Old Town Hall was no longer telling the correct time. Cllr Cook got on the case and we are pleased to see that the council has got it back up and telling the correct time. We are still working on bringing back the chimes, but it is more complicated than you would imagine.

Greenbelt still under threat from Woodcote development proposals

The very persistent developers, Perseus Land & Developments Ltd,  are pushing ahead with plans to build a 70-bed care home on Greenbelt land in Wallington, despite council planners advising against it as against both local and London planning policy. They plan to build on land between Woodcote Green Garden Centre in Woodmansterne Lane and Wallington Girls School.

We already have more care homes than most other London boroughs, and plenty specialised for Dementia care, so need is not an argument for developing on greenbelt here, nor is there a lack of brownfield sites elsewhere in the borough.

We know that local people feel very strongly about protecting Greenbelt land, and over 40 objections have been submitted so far, including an objection from Jayne on behalf of the ward councillors. The application also impacts on neighbouring wards Beddington South and Carshalton South and Clockhouse and the Lib Dem councillors there have also expressed their concerns about the impact on the area and their residents.

We are outraged to have learnt that the developers are sending letters to residents promoting the development and using general quotes from the council leader and Age UK to imply support for the scheme. The Leader has in fact written to the developer advising that the plans are against council planning policy. Nor does their communication state that it is on green belt land. It is tricks like this that give developers a bad name.

Exceptional number of objections to increasing height of flats

The developers of the flats on the old BP garage site in Wallington are now proposing to increase the height of the rear block by two storeys using the Government’s new extended Permitted Development Rights. In a meeting with residents in the flats and neighbouring properties there was dismay at the implications of this additional height on their light and privacy, and the disruption the construction would cause them.

As Permitted Development there are very limited grounds for preventing these extensions. The Government introduced these extended rights for developers without consultation and clearly without understanding the distress and impact they can have on residents. It also rides roughshod over all the work that went into the Council’s Local Plan and height restrictions placed on the development at the application stage.

Despite the obstacles we are supporting the residents in their fight against this inappropriate extension and have seen an amazing 93 objections to this application, including our own.

We are expecting a decision on the application shortly.

Just in – application was refused!

Gullies and Deep Cleaning across the ward

Your ward councillors have been reporting blocked gullies and leaf fall across the ward which has resulted in some deep cleaning of the worst affected roads such as Marchmont and Demesne Road. Do use Report it on the council website to report build up of leaves, blocked drains and litter as it goes straight through to Veolia and generally gets dealt with promptly.

Foresters Drive Cycle lane

The lightweight plastic wands have not been welcomed as they are ugly and easily vandalised. Our enquiries revealed that these are temporary and the intention is to replace them with much less intrusive ‘armadillo humps’ should the lane be made permanent. You can feedback your views on the cycle lane trial here.

Wallington Station Mural a hit

The new mural under the bridge at Wallington Railway Station has been a hit with residents, adding some interest to a rather dreary underpass. It comes thanks to public realm funding from the Beddington & Wallington local Committee. The council allocates a pot of capital funding to each local committee to deliver projects proposed by the community and agreed by the committee. A list of recent projects funded this way can be seen here.

Bandon Hill School Street in Beddington Gardens

The feedback from this school street trial so far is that it is generally welcomed by local residents and parents, however there are still far too many drivers ignoring the restrictions. If the decision is made to make this school street permanent, then we will ask that it is enforced with numberplate recognition cameras to ensure compliance.

Fly-tipped or Marooned?

We recently had the strangest fly-tipping report of a yacht dumped in Buckingham Way. Fortunately it was quickly removed but it does show what can happen when you get a heavy downpour in Sandy Lane South!

All In Wallington still manage to bring some Christmas Cheer

It was clear quite early on that we couldn’t go ahead with the Wallington Christmas Festival this year, but the residents and businesses that make up our All In Wallington community group have still managed to arrange a Christmas Tree again, thanks to the generosity of Your Move, and new lights sponsored by Carpenters & Co.

Jean Grima, Ric Adams and the children of St Elphege’s school also worked to bring a Wallington ADVENT-ure TRAIL to attract some young code breakers with the chance to win a prize, kindly sponsored by Carpenter & Co.

Santa says that he will miss the children visiting him at his Wallington Grotto this year, but reassures us that he has taken all the measures required to still be able to still deliver presents safely this year.

Ward Surgeries and casework

We suspended our councillor ward surgeries in Wallington Sainsburys and will continue to do so until the need to socially distance is removed as it is not easily maintained in the space we occupy by the lifts.

We are willing to undertake site visits and meetings to discuss casework issues, as long as we can observe social distancing. Contact us via email or telephone as usual.

BOROUGH NEWS

Coronavirus: Local Information and Help

The council provides guidance and information on the latest lockdown requirements and how to get a test on its website as well as details of the support and financial help available.

There are grants of £500 available for people required to self isolate, and a range of grants for businesses affected by the various Tier restrictions.

Changes to waste collection over Christmas

Don’t forget that waste collections will change over the Christmas and New Year period. You can check the collection dates on the council website here.

Real Christmas trees will also be collected over the two week period from 18th January 2021.

The Household Reuse and Recycling Centre at Kimpton Way will remain open throughout lockdown except for Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day, and will continue to be booking only. You can book a slot here.

WARD PLANNING NEWS

DM2020/00810 6 Onslow Gardens Wallington Sutton SM6 9QN Demolition of existing outbuilding and erection of a detached dwelling with vehicular access from Onslow Gardens.  Refused Aug 2020

DM2020/00501 50-52 Stanley Park Road Carshalton SM5 3HW Demolition of existing semi-detached dwellings and erection of a detached two storey building including accommodation in roof space to provide 7 self-contained residential units, provision of cycle/refuse stores, parking spaces and altered vehicular access to and from the front of the property.  Refused Aug 2020

DM2020/00450 Monarch House 7 Stafford Road Wallington SM6 9AN Erection of a single storey rear conservatory, enclosure of under croft to form additional office floor space, alteration to parking, vehicle access from Onslow Gardens with new gates and boundary treatment. Still pending decision

New Applications:

DM2020/01805  Land At Woodcote Green Garden Centre Woodmansterne Lane Wallington SM6 0SU Demolition of existing structures, and erection of a two storey nursing home comprising 70 bedrooms, car parking, cycle storage, bin storage, access, landscaping and other associated works This application is for development on land designated as Greenbelt

DM2020/01589 31-35 Stafford Road Wallington SM6 9AP (old BP Garage site) Prior Approval in relation to the erection of 2 new floors to provide 10 self contained residential units. Refusal just in!

DM2020/01688 109 Boundary Road Wallington SM6 0TE  10th application for demolition of existing single storey detached garage and erection of a detached two storey dwelling in garden land to the rear of 109 and 107 Boundary Road with attached refuse storage area to the side of the property, parking to the front accessed from Brambledown Road Not accepted as valid as less than two years since a similar, refused application was submitted

So that is our last update for 2020. We wish you all a peaceful Christmas and hope for a new year that brings some relief from these difficult times.

Cllr Steve Cook, Cllr Jayne McCoy & Cllr Muhammad Sadiq

Your Lib Dem team for Wallington South

P.S. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if there is anything we can do to help: wallingtonsouth.libdems@gmail.com

December 28, 2020 Posted by | Information, Liberal Democrats | , | Leave a comment

Sutton’s response to the Planning Reform White Paper

Housing, Economy and Business Committee Response to the Planning for the Future White Paper Consultation
 
To whom it may concern,
 
Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the Government’s Planning for the Future consultation document.
 
Sutton Council discussed the proposals contained in the consultation document and the implications for our borough at a cross-party meeting of the Housing, Economy and
Business Committee on 13 October 2020.
 
This letter accompanies the council’s technical response to the consultation (attached) and highlights the following concerns and issues raised by members at that meeting:
 
Reduced resident input on plan-making and applications
The proposals give local people less opportunity to input into Local Plan making by largely centralising the process and removing the opportunity for meaningful input at local level. This is contrary to our approach in Sutton that saw extensive resident engagement to enable the council to deliver an ambitious Local Plan that residents understood and supported.
 
The proposals for granting outline permission to applications in designated Growth Areas, coupled with the new extended Permitted Development Rights, would mean residents would
have no say whatsoever on applications that could make a huge impact on their area and therefore their lives. People choose to live or work in an area based on how it meets their personal needs and aspirations. They contribute through local taxes to that area and help make an area what it is. We strongly believe that they have a right to have a say over development proposals to their area and help ensure any change is positive.
 
Housing targets are flawed and take no account of local land supply rendering them undeliverable
The algorithm for calculating housing targets does not take account of local housing needs or available land supply. A consortium of outer London boroughs successfully argued that
the London Mayor’s housing targets, a lower figure than the 1,122 net target set via this algorithm, were undeliverable due to land supply constraints, which means that this higher
target is equally undeliverable.
 
Centrally-set targets and designations take no account of local built character
The only way to meet the centrally imposed housing targets in suburban boroughs would be to build on back garden land, greatly intensify suburban areas, and put pressure to build on
green spaces and Green Belt land. This would result in the loss of the varied and much-loved character of the villages and district centres that make up our area, turning outer London suburban boroughs into replicas of inner London densification with tower blocks and reduced open space.
 
Housing targets fail to account for supporting infrastructure
New development requires additional school places, GP and other health services, road and transport infrastructure and amenity space, as well as local jobs and economic growth.
There are already tensions in finding land to meet these competing needs, but the proposals focus on housing targets and are silent on requiring the supporting infrastructure.
 
Less affordable housing will result from the proposals
London does not simply have a housing crisis but an affordable housing crisis. Local people note that much of the new housing being built is unaffordable for them. Raising the threshold
for requiring private developers to deliver affordable housing will significantly reduce the amount of affordable housing delivered in our area. This is particularly pertinent for Sutton as we do not have significant numbers of large sites available for development, so much future development will be on smaller sites beneath the threshold.
 
Lack of detail about consolidated infrastructure levy
Extending the levy to include developments built under permitted development rights is welcomed. However, the consolidated levy will need to cover a wide range of infrastructure needs including affordable housing, mitigation of development impacts on an area, contributions to health and education and transport, all of which will be conflicting and
require local knowledge. The consultation fails to provide details of how this consolidated levy will deliver the necessary infrastructure in practice.
 
Lack of detail over sustainability standards
The proposals remove the requirement for a Local Plan to have a Sustainability Appraisal. However, the consultation is vague about how sustainability requirements in new developments will be regulated.
 
Impacts of uncertainty on economic recovery from COVID-19
It is recognised that the construction industry makes a significant contribution to the UK economy. Developers need certainty to give them confidence to build. The proposed reforms to the planning system, combined with the lack of detail and the time necessary to implement the changes once finalised, leaves the development industry in limbo. As the UK
economy is desperately struggling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be heavily reliant on the development industry to help the economic recovery. Now is not the time to be introducing uncertainty into the planning system.

The Technical Response can be viewed here:

November 10, 2020 Posted by | Information | | Leave a comment

Local Muslim community condemns terrorist attacks in France

AHMADIYYA MUSLIM COMMUNITY

 Cheam Chapter 

PRESS & MEDIA DESK

PRESS RELEASE

THURSDAY 29 OCTOBER 2020 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Condemns Terrorist Attacks in  France

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Cheam chapter is deeply saddened and  shocked at the news of  the terrorist attacks that took place in France in Paris and Nice. 

His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, The Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community said:

“The murder and beheading of Samuel Paty and the attack in Nice earlier today must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. Such grievous attacks are completely against the teachings of Islam. Our religion does not permit terrorism or extremism under any circumstances and anyone who claims otherwise acts against the teachings of the Holy Quran and contrary to the noble character of the Holy Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).

“As the worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, I extend our deepest sympathies to the loved ones of the victims and to the French nation. Let it be clear that our condemnation and hatred of such attacks is not something new but has always been our position and stance. The Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community as and his Successors have always categorically rejected all forms of violence or bloodshed in the name of religion. 

“The fallout from this heinous act has further exacerbated the tensions between the Islamic world and the West and between Muslims living in France and the rest of society. We consider this to be a source of deep regret and a means of further undermining the peace and stability of the world. We must all join together to root out all forms of extremism and to encourage mutual understanding and tolerance. From our perspective, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community will spare no effort in our mission to foster a better understanding of the true and peaceful teachings of Islam in the world.”

Mr Nasim Khan,President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community  Cheam said:

“The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK strongly condemns the horrific terrorist attacks that have taken place in Paris and Nice, France, leaving four people dead.”

“The Holy Quran states that to kill even one innocent person is akin to killing all of mankind. Therefore, those who commit such atrocities in the name of Islam can never find any justification in this faith.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost their loved ones and all those affected by this incident.”

November 2, 2020 Posted by | Information | , , | Leave a comment

……..trying to save the planet one day at a time

Using up fresh veg

I get my fresh veg delivered from Sutton Community Farm, but I often don’t use it all before it starts to get past its best. My solution is soup.

I love soup, it is nutritious and almost any veg can be combined with other ingredients to make a tasty meal.

Today the veg I needed to use up was spinach. Combined with chickpeas, dried apricots (another leftover I was pleased to use up) and some spices I cooked up enough Moroccan chickpea and spinach soup for five portions, three of which went in the freezer, one to my elderly neighbour, and one in the fridge for tomorrow’s lunch.

October 26, 2020 Posted by | Opinion | | Leave a comment

Sutton joins Kingston and Richmond to support hungry children over half-term

It has been a scrabble to find the funding and get a working scheme in place at short notice, but Cllrs Marian James & Jenny Batt were determined to make up for the Government’s failure to extend Free School Meals over half term and get Sutton Council to put a scheme in place.

There was widespread disgust at our two local Conservative MP’s failure to support the Free School Meals vote in Parliament, and a number of local community groups and even individual people responded by offering to help provide food for children over half term.

In defence of their MPs our local Sutton Conservatives then suggested we use the £171,000 the Government allocated at the beginning of July to support the voluntary sector and to provide all those food parcels delivered to shielding and vulnerable households. Money that has already been spent in the 12 weeks the Government guidance stipulated, and confirmed in the finance papers to a recent Strategy & Resources cross-party committee the Tories sit on!

That same committee received a report showing that additional costs incurred by the council to support the increased demand as a result of Covid was now at £12.2 million, but like councils across the country we are not receiving sufficient funding to cover all of the demand, and still face a £1.5 million shortfall just in this year.

Still it appears to be Tory policy to announce ‘new’ financial support schemes that turn out to be rehashed existing schemes. Unfortunately it can’t be spent twice.

More details on the scheme will be published on the Council website on Monday. Officers will continue to work over the weekend with Cllrs James & Batt to get everything in place.

I’m delighted to see that all three Lib-dem-run councils in London are united in their desire to make up for the callousness of this Government’s stance. There are more families in poverty as a result of losing their jobs or simply struggling through this pandemic. We have to show compassion, not condemnation.

October 24, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Minister’s Housing Targets would mean three Sutton Point developments per year for Sutton

At the Housing, Economy & Business Committee meeting on Tuesday 13th October 2020 councillors debated the Government’s Planning for the Future consultation which seeks to rip up current planning rules and impose top-down housing targets and grant automatic planning permissions in broad brush growth areas.

At the meeting the council’s Head of Planning described the algorithm setting the housing target for Sutton as meaning a 263% increase on the current Local Plan target, the equivalent to delivering three Sutton Point developments per year. He described the methodology for calculating the target as flawed and councillors noted it would ride roughshod over Sutton’s current Local Plan, which had wide resident support for the current housing targets, following extensive consultation.

Delivering housing in these quantities would be impossible in our current agreed growth areas around the town and district centres, and councillors expressed their concerns that it would mean intensive and inappropriate development in our precious suburban heartlands, and potential loss of green space, without accounting for the schools, health provision or transport infrastructure necessary to make the developments viable.

The Government’s proposals would also reduce the amount of affordable housing developers are required to provide, which would do nothing to address the needs of local people unable to afford these new properties imposed on us.

The council will be submitting a response to the consultation objecting to this centralized approach to planning which also removes the opportunity for local people to comment and influence development in their area, and impacting on their lives.

The consultation is open until 29th October 2020 and responses can be made here: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/MHCLG-Planning-for-the-Future/

October 16, 2020 Posted by | Committee Meeting | , | Leave a comment

……trying to save the planet one day at a time

The benefit of a big butt

My water butt has served me very well over the summer with no need to resort to the tap to water my plants.
The recent dry spell had almost emptied the butt but this weekend’s downpours have filled it back up to the top. Only disadvantage is that I was planning on cleaning the butt when it got low as it had started to smell, but that will now have to wait.
I had been shocked to note from the Environment Strategy that in Sutton we use a higher average daily amount of water per person than the rest of London, and the UK, so I am pleased that a very cheap investment in a water butt helps me use rainwater more sustainably. However I could do better by remembering to use it for my indoor plants as well.

October 6, 2020 Posted by | Opinion | Leave a comment

The long road to redevelopment of the Victoria House site

Sutton Council has been actively seeking the demolition of Victoria House and a suitable redevelopment of the site that will boost the North Cheam area for some time.

Granted application not built out Permission had been granted in 2006 for refurbishment of the existing building including remodeling the commercial space and adding an additional floor. However, this permission was never implemented by the owners.

A plan to attract new developers In 2012 the council launched a new Economic Development strategy aimed at attracting investment and development to the borough, underpinned by a new Local Plan. This resulted in unprecedented developer interest in the borough and has seen the delivery of many new housing and commercial developments, as well as attracting new businesses into the borough.

An acceptable application from Stonegate Homes granted It also resulted in interest in the Victoria House site from Stonegate Homes Ltd. An application to redevelop the site was submitted in March 2013 for an 8-storey development that met with resident approval and was granted planning permission in July 2013. Everyone eagerly anticipated the demolition of Victoria House as we expected the redevelopment of the site.

To our dismay we learnt that Stonegate Homes had instead decided they could profit more by selling on the land with planning permission.

New developers purchase the site The site was purchased by Home Group Ltd who quickly engaged with the council to discuss their plans to redevelop the site. In 2014 the council was actively involved in negotiations with Ladbrokes, the remaining leaseholders in the property, to get them to vacate as Home Group said they were keen to demolish the existing building. Home Group were also required to put up hoardings to secure the site.

Home Group applications rejected In February 2016 Home Group submitted a planning application, but this was withdrawn. Applications are usually withdrawn when planning officers advise that the plans do not meet with current planning policies.

A new application was submitted in November 2016 for a ten-storey modern design split-tower building. Local residents were opposed to the height and design of the proposed building which was out of keeping with the surrounding area. The council’s Planning Committee agreed and planning permission was refused when it met in April 2017. Home Group appealed the decision. The Planning Inspectorate heard the appeal in November 2018 and upheld the council’s decision to refuse.

Pressure on Home Group for demolition of Victoria House Home Group retained the ownership of the land whilst they considered their options. In this time the Victoria House building had become more delipidated and presented a prominent eyesore in North Cheam. In April 2019 a resident’s petition was presented to the Council asking it to compulsorily purchase the property to demolish and redevelop the site itself. Home Group attended this meeting to confirm that they still intended to develop the site and were working on bringing forward financially viable plans. The council advised that it would not make financial sense to spend taxpayers money on the legal and purchase costs of acquiring the site whilst a private developer had intent to develop. CPOs are also only likely to be granted by the courts where there was no developer interest.

Mixed messages on demolition from Home Group Following that meeting I arranged a number of meetings between resident representatives, ward councillors and Home Group to give residents the opportunity to express their desire to see the building demolished directly to Home Group and explain their aspirations for the site.

In April 2019 Home Group put some initial development proposals to the council’s independent Design Review Panel which was attended by Resident Association representatives and councillors. The Design Review Panel concurred with the councillors and residents that these proposals needed more work to better reflect the character of the local area.

At those meetings Home Group talked about partial demolition of the building just leaving the sub-station, raising hopes of an early demolition. However, when pushed Home Group stated their unwillingness to incur the considerable costs of demolishing the building until they were confident of achieving planning permission to develop the site.

Within a short space of time they then submitted an application for demolition, raising our hopes with a deadline for implementation. They then advised that this was just to enable them to undertake the preparation work for demolition including asbestos removal.

Enforcement action The council opened an enforcement case in October 2019 requiring Home Group to address the condition of the land and building.  However, as Home Group were actively demonstrating they are seeking to develop the site, legal powers to enforce demolition are limited. The developers only need to make the site secure. The courts take the view that once planning permission is granted it will automatically result in demolition and so whilst there is active developer engagement any legal action would in fact delay both the demolition and the redevelopment.

Current progress promising Home Group entered into a formal Pre-application arrangement with the Local Planning Authority in July 2020 which they plan to lead to an acceptable planning application submission by the end of this year. Another Design Review Panel is planned in due course.

Recent direct contact with Home Group from residents demanding demolition of the building sooner rather than later led to Home Group issuing a statement reported in the press that they planned to demolish most of the building in October. This had not been communicated to the council’s planning team during the pre-application process, however the council has already granted permission for demolition of the existing building so that this can be implemented anytime Home Group are ready to go.

Current discussions between Home Group and the Planning Team are promising so we are optimistic that an acceptable planning application will be submitted this year which, if granted,  should finally see the much-awaited demolition of the Victoria House eyesore.

October 5, 2020 Posted by | Information | | 2 Comments

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