Fluffy Planning Policy – The East Greenwich Gas Holder Case

East Greenwich one contained the largest collection of gas holders in the UK.  Now only one remains.

The Victorian Society

In April 2018 gas distribution company SGN were given approval by Royal Borough of Greenwich for a means of dismantling East Greenwich No 1 Gas Holder, the dismantling itself being a permitted development. This was received in the pre-election period when elected councillors are in ‘purdah’ (ie normal council business is suspended and a time limited decision, like this one, would be passed to officers).

It appears the planners’ decision is in direct contradiction of the Planning Brief policy regarding the gas holder which states:

“Proposals should respect and respond to the industrial character of the area as a means of relating new development to the local context. In particular, development should build on the heritage value of the gas holder to enhance the character and distinctiveness of the area.”

Greenwich made the right decision.  PD is a matter of fact and law.  The planning brief was irrelevant.  The problem was the planning brief.  If you are going to protect a heritage asset make sure you can protect it and not merely engage in meaningless virtue signalling, which in this case related not to an early, important and potentially list-able gasholder bit the last one built in London.  The Planning brief was fluffy and served no purpose vis a vis protection of the gasholder.

Planning Restrictions Prevent Fulham (or any club) Taking Control of Wembley


An American billionaire has launched an audacious bid worth more than £500 million to buy Wembley Stadium from the Football Association, the Evening Standard has learned.

Car parts tycoon Shahid Khan – owner of Fulham FC and the Jacksonville JaguarsNFL team – is understood to have struck an outline agreement with FA boss Martin Glenn to transfer the “home of English football” to foreign ownership for the first time.

The extraordinary proposal, which will send shockwaves through the sport, was being put before the full board of the domestic game’s governing body today.
If the takeover gets the go ahead more American football games are likely to be played at Wembley and it could even pave the way for an NFL franchise to be permanently based in London.
The conditions on the original national stadium permission are complex – I helped write them.
Two apply in particular.  Firstly a restriction on it being the primary home of any club.  Se only a cap on events (originally 20 a year it may have been raised to 25 I hear).
So the temporary season long use by Spurs required variations.
Both of these are backed up by development plan policy allocation the land as primary purpose as national stadium for football or rugby league.
Changes to conditions and planning obligations are needed to make it permanent home to a premier league club.  Indeed I sat through meetings with consortia on behalf of  top tier football clubs knocking them back.  Because we knew if it became exclusive to a top tier club it would price out a national stadium and only a national stadium wouldnt get major national funding for transport etc.
That is not to say the conditions etc. cant be changed.  However support for one team is a private interest.  Support for a national stadium is a public one, and the development plan is all about public interest.  It would be hard to reconcile the exceptionally severe controls on local movements for an area now planned for 5,000 homes on 40+ as opposed to 20-25 days per year.  A very high price would be exacted.  The stadium is certainly worth less than 500 million with these restrictions.

When and Why Outsourcing goes Wrong

Large firms that specialise in outsourcing base their success on their one shared skill – being good at bidding.

However a good bid still relies on the bid writer understanding the industry and assessing risk.

A bad bid will be spotted – if also assessed by a specialist in that industry.

This is far less likely when very larger numbers of different services are outsourced at once.  The decision maker is unlikely to be a specialist.  Bad bids will get through.

What are the Options for South Oxfordshire Local Plan Fiasco?

Lead members for planning votes against own local plan, gets sacked, threat f ni confidence in Council leader – who then resigns.  Back to Cabinet for alternative option,

Oxford Mail

A CRITICAL part of a council’s housing plan faces being axed – again – because of concerns over its viability.

South Oxfordshire District Council has earmarked Chalgrove Airfield as somewhere it wants to build 3,000 homes, despite strong public opposition.

Its cabinet decided last week that it was content to keep the site in its local plan.

But on Tuesday the council rejected the current local plan and told the cabinet to go back and choose one of two options.

Either the cabinet can suggest the council looks to find an alternative site and scrap building on Chalgrove Airfield entirely or use that new site as a backup if Chalgrove is turned down in an independent inspection.

The local plan outlines where the council wants to build homes until 2033.

Council leader John Cotton, who resigned as the leader of the council’s Conservative group earlier this month, said although keeping the plan as it was would be a ‘risk’, it would be better to ‘crack on’ than to delay its submission.

After his proposal was rejected, he wrote on Twitter that he was ‘deeply disappointed’ that the council had ‘rejected submitting the plan that we had previously concluded was best.’

It is understood that other Oxfordshire councils worried that there was a ‘50/50 chance’ of SODC’s local plan failing had it been submitted as it stood earlier this week.

The airfield is owned by Government agency Homes England.

It has told the tenants, ejector seat manufacturer Martin-Baker, that it wants to take some of the land for building.

But Martin-Baker has resisted any approach, leading Homes England to threaten that it could use a compulsory purchase order to secure the land if no agreement is reached amicably.

Any building on Chalgrove Airfield is not supported by Oxfordshire Council Council, which has warned that the £90m offered by Homes England for roads infrastructure is about half of what it said it had expected.

The district council’s legal advice – which was referred to at Tuesday’s meeting but has yet to be made public – said the plan was ‘peppered with “considerable risk’, according to councillor Stefan Gawrysiak.

Graham Bell, from the Chalgrove Action Group, said the group supports the development of a local plan to stop speculative development ‘but it must be based on facts and evidence’.

He added: “This is not a plan based on facts and evidence and is based on the egos of some and intransigence of others.”

All Oxfordshire’s councils could be affected if the local plan is delivered late. As part of the £215m Housing and Growth Deal, councils’ local plans must be submitted next spring.

Alternative sites could include Wick Farm, adjoining the Barton Park site, or Grenoble Road, south of Oxford.

Another could be new town Harrington, off the M40.

What are the options

  1.  Chalgrove with a plan B.  Not a goer the government will no commit to the full cost of highway works.  In any event  Chalgrove location not sustainable
  2.  Harrington New Town.  Next to an M40 junction – that’s sustainable.  This general location could be a goer only if there was a restoration of the Wycombe railway line.
  3. Wycke Farm next to Barton Park.  Next to Oxford Border, Green Belt better not wrong side of M40 and no rail access.
  4. Grenoble Road, next to Oxford, part owned by Oxford Council, integrated with town, will have rail access wit restoration of Wycombe line to Cowley.  excellent access to Oxford business park.  Green Belt.  Some uncertainty re final route of Oxford-Cambridge expressway however of comes south of Oxford would form obvious edge of site.

Come down to Green Belt but sustainable v not Green Belt.  The Green Belt is a tool to shape urban form not shape stupidity.