I have been amazed at the lack of engagement with the public from Transport for London in relation to the rolling out of the Boris Bike scheme across Hammersmith and Fulham and their heavy-handed approach to steamrolling their schemes through.
It appears to me they have no regard for local character and distinctiveness, nor in fact to due process, being prepared to carry out works ahead of obtaining planning permission. In one instance they carried on with ‘enabling works’ despite a legal challenge taking place against the council’s decision to approve 27 docking stations in the Hurlingham Conservation Area, next to the historic park and affecting the setting of a listed building.
We wrote to TfL to advise them we had lodged a judicial review against the council’s decision and the works they were undertaking may lead to us taking out an injunction. They responded by saying the works ‘are separate to the works authorised by the planning permission reference 2012/04104/FUL’ and ‘have been carried out by a contractor of the relevant statutory undertaker’. This is despite the fact the ‘feeder pillar’ is clearly the power supply for TfL’s docking stations.Subsequently, having challenged the adequacy of TfL’s application and the decision by the council, we were successful in the courts, with the council conceding that:
1. Permission is granted for the claim for judicial review
2. The planning permission LBH&F Ref 2012/04104/FUL granted on February 8, 2013 be quashed
3. The claimant’s reasonable costs were to be paid by the council
4. The application be remitted back to the local planning authority for redetermination.
In the meantime we carried out surveys of alternative locations suitable for Boris Bikes, choosing sites closer to public transport facilities, outside the conservation area, or if within a conservation area in less sensitive locations (such as commercial areas).
Having identified 19 sites we provided this list, with photos, maps and comments to TfL, requesting they withdraw the quashed application and consider the alternatives. We received a very abrupt, arrogant and dismissive reply from their lawyer, which said: “TfL has no intention of withdrawing the planning application but will await the outcome of the council’s redetermination process. There is accordingly no need for TfL to consider any alternative sites such as those you propose.”
This seemed an amazing response from a public body that reports to the mayor, when he has made it clear he would take a more consensual approach to planning for London based on a clear recognition of the need for engagement, involvement and consultation on all sides.
We await with interest TfL’s next steps and have now asked local councillors and our assembly member to get involved.
Buy charity single and help end loneliness
I am thrilled to be a member of the Anchor Community Band and despite being 84, I cannot believe that our charity song, See Yourself, has been released.
I have lived at Anchor’s Norton House in Arneway Street for five years and this is the first time I have ever performed on a charity single, especially with 350 other older musicians and singers.
It has been such fun but behind it is a very serious message. The Campaign to End Loneliness found more than one million people aged over 65 across the country are often or always lonely.
All the money raised from the single will go to national charity Contact the Elderly, which combats loneliness and social isolation faced by many older people aged over 75, who live alone. Volunteer hosts hold free, monthly Sunday tea parties in their own homes, with drivers collecting and accompanying guests to the events.
I am lucky where I live because Norton House has a thriving community spirit. I hope many of your readers will buy the single to help less fortunate older people living alone. We want to get into the charts on Sunday, June 9, so please buy See Yourself from amazon.co.uk, iTunes.co.uk or from select HMV stores.
Council is the borough’s custodian, not the owner
This is an open letter to Hammersmith and Fulham Council.
Give us back our borough. You do not own the river, nor the parks, nor the hospitals, nor the lovely old buildings, nor the markets, nor the shops, nor the council homes, nor the cinema, nor the spaces.
You are merely the custodians, not the proprietors. We pay our taxes to you to manage all these; you have responsibility for them.
What you do not have is the right to dispose of any of them for perpetuity.
We want our borough back.
Walter, Suzanna, Natasha and Sam Harris
Borough residents for 27 years