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Another fake consultation

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Another fake consultation

Yesterday saw the first 'consultation' about a proposal for a new housing development in Camberwell.

Last night, a small group of local residents around Redcar Street in Camberwell got the opportunity to see what the council will be doing to their neighbourhood.

The 'consultation' was to last for the whole two and a half hours and was planned as five 25mins 'focus group' sessions. The letter residents (within 300m of the development) received warned them it was essential to reserve a place on the 'focus group' as it would hold a maximum of 20 people. In other words, last night's 'exercise' was to gather opinion from some 100 people, which, approximately, is less than 10% of people who live in the neighbourhood.

Dianna Hall, member of the council's regeneration team, explained to the 'focus group' that the proposal is to be presented to the councillors on 20th October. We found this rather confusing, for a single, very simple reason. If, as Ms Hall claimed, no decisions as to what is to happen on that bit of land have actually been made, would the council have wasted tax payers' money to engage not one but four external companies (two architects' firms, an urban regeneration consultancy, and a company called 'East' which also does something?) to develop a proposal which may or may not happen, depending on what the local people think? Ms Hall could not tell us how much the proposal was costing to date, but hopefully This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. will reply to our email about it. It may well be that Southwark has more money to burn than they're letting on (the £1M given to Tate Modern springs to mind too)? But, if this was the case, would Cllr Stephanie Cryan, cabinet member for adult care and financial inclusion, be warning about 'growing pressures on council's finances' in this week's Southwark News, which is why the council will have to start charging the disabled people £10 for the blue badge? Or it may well be that the council, again, never really wanted anything else from us, but only a not-too-bright-or-demanding an audience for the boxes they need to tick?

It later transpired that the people whose lives will be directly affected by the proposal (ie whose homes will be demolished) were not only never asked beforehand, but were not even aware of the 'consultation' event itself.

The proposal, we were told, was part of the council's 'grand' programme to build the 11,000 new council homes in the next 30 years and 1,500 new council homes by 2018. A total of 124 homes would be built, around 50 of those would be re-provision (ie homes for the people whose homes would get demolished in the process), and the rest, 70+, would be new homes. 25 of them would be for private sale (which would effectively pay for the entire development), 20-25 would be intermediate rent and 20-25 new council homes. The new council homes would be rented at existing council home rates. The development would happen in phases, ie new church and a number of new reprovision homes would be built, some of the residents moved into the new homes, then another phase would start etc.

There is nothing in any way exciting or interesting about the proposal. Allegedly, the new homes for people who live in the blocks which would get demolished, would be replaced like-for-like (as in '1 bedroom flat' for '1 bedroom flat'; the new homes would be, again allegedly, 10% larger than Parker Morris standard). There would, from what could work out, be some loss of public spaces and public green space. Some family homes are included but it was not clear where any children could actually play or socialise etc.

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Corbett House, 'temporary' building on Wyndham Road which has been there for at least 10 years now, and which has been the home to many families during the period, is to be knocked down and the residents dispersed wherever Hyde Housing Association (who manage it) decided. The council representatives seemed totally disinterested in what happened to those residents, even though they too would have been part of the neighbourhood for some time, would have contributed to the local life, economy, etc.

According to the council's own strategic planning document, Camberwell is all about 'arts and culture'. What this means, in real life, is that the council allows private developers to demolish artists studios and not provide alternative spaces for people to create the 'arts and culture'. One of the people from the neighbouring Blue Elephant Theatre, who was there last night, noted that the theatre, which is passionate about the local community and continues to work with both the school children and residents on the council estates, would greatly benefit from a larger venue. Nothing even remotely similar was not only not on the cards yesterday, but nowhere in the council 'thinking', raising the question of just how relevant planning documents actually were when politicians and/or council officers had already decided what is to happen although "no decisions have been made".

To make things even more interesting or shameless, the residents who didn't attend the 'consultation' event don't get to have a say at all - the information on the council's website is very basic; the council's original letter to residents stated residents could participate online from 14th October 2015 except that this happens when you try:

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Since 2010, the council's contempt for what people in Camberwell may think or need has been impossible to ignore, whether we're talking former Gala Bingo Hall or the Camberwell Green Orchard.

This latest show sadly does little to restore the council's credibility.

Updated 26th October 2015:

The council has finally published the original 'consultation' boards as well as the online feedback form, which you can see here, in 'citizen space'. We are yet to hear from either the council officer or Cllr Mark Williams as some might think that splashing money on stuff which may not happen, depending on what the people who live here think/decide, may not be the most sensible use of council's limited budget. Unless, of course, the people who live here have no role in decision making. Can't be both, can it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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People in this conversation

  • we never got a reply from either the council officer or cllr williams about the costs of this particular box ticking waste of money. not sure where the corbett house people are meant to go either, but will ask

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  • Guest - Guest

    I would like to know if you have had any further update on the above?

    Have the council/housing association made any further contact with the tennants is regards to what is happening? Are they going to assist tennants in finding new home?

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  • Guest - Stephen

    Wow interesting, I live there and the last person to know this, but I can garentee that hyde and the council will both get out there cash pot on this.
    How crap that they can tell everyone except the people that live there about this...
    What a bunch of cowards and useless people.

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