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City of London

REFORM THE PLANNING PROCESS IN THE CITY OF LONDON

The Golden Lane Estate Residents' Association is one of the sponsors of a major petition that has just been launched to seek reform of the planning process in the City.

All Golden Lane residents know the harm that is being done to our Estate by the Denizen and COLPAI developments, which are the products of the City’s undemocratic planning process.

This petition is a chance for you - together with other City residents and workers, and anyone interested in our heritage - to speak with one voice against that process, particularly as a proposal was recently made by the City Corporation's leadership to reduce democratic accountability in planning even further.

The text of the petition is set out below.

Please use this link to sign it a soon as you can: http://chng.it/Y8H6M7DsHf.

(If you haven’t previously signed a Change.org petition, you may not initially be offered a Comments box in which you can insert your status as a resident, etc. You may be able to add that comment afterwards. But while giving your status is useful, it isn’t essential: the important thing is to sign.)

The petition will be formally presented to the Court of Common Council at its meeting in April (but needs to be lodged before the end of this month). A high number of signatures may turn the dial - even a little - on this matter, which potentially affects us all.

Petition to the Court of Common Council, City of London Corporation


Sponsors
This petition is sponsored by: The Barbican Association, Golden Lane Estate Residents’ Association, Councillors Mark Bostock, Marianne Fredericks, Graeme Harrower and Sue Pearson, and Resident Heather Thomas.


Signing the Petition
Please sign this petition by Tuesday, 30th March 2021. When signing please indicate in the comments box whether you are a City of London resident, or City of London worker, or whether you have a wider interest in the City’s built environment and heritage.


The Petition


We, the undersigned:
declare that we have no confidence in the City of London Corporation’s current planning process and
petition the Court of Common Council to:
1. reject a proposal that planning applications be decided by panels of the Planning and Transportation Committee instead of by the whole Committee to avoid eroding democratic accountability;
2. prevent those councillors who are members of committees responsible for the Corporation’s extensive property interests from also being members of the Planning and Transportation Committee, to avoid conflicts of interest; and
3. prevent those councillors who have professional associations within the property development industry from also being members of the Planning and Transportation Committee, to avoid a perception of bias.


Background
Democratic accountability is already weak within the Corporation because a majority of councillors are (uniquely) elected by small numbers of voters appointed by businesses, only a quarter of which register to vote. As a consequence of this business vote, the Planning and Transportation Committee generally ignores reasonable objections made on planning grounds, especially by residents and heritage bodies, and approves ever taller buildings which blight neighbouring properties and degrade heritage assets. Allocating decisions to panels will exacerbate this existing problem.


Recent examples of bad planning decisions include:
150 Aldersgate Street (opposite the Grade II listed Barbican Estate). Plans were approved to refurbish the existing office building making it taller, thereby reducing the daylight to the surrounding homes and businesses, and overshadowing the Smithfield Conservation Area. The Corporation had an undisclosed interest in this application as the freeholder of the property. It benefited financially from the approval, which would not have been granted but for the votes of five councillors on the Planning and Transportation Committee who also sat on a committee which manages the Corporation’s property interests, including this property. The debate was prematurely terminated on a motion by one of these councillors.


The Denizen The Corporation sold a building formerly used for police accommodation on this site to a developer, which demolished it and built this large block of luxury flats. The block has caused a severe loss of light to a number of homes in Grade II listed Golden Lane Estate.


55 Gracechurch Street Approval was recently granted for this 29 storey office block outside the approved “eastern cluster”, which will harm views of Tower Bridge and the Monument, both Grade I.
70 Gracechurch Street Approval was recently granted for this 33 storey office block, which will literally overshadow the roof of Grade II* listed Leadenhall Market.


Transparency International published recommendations in February 2021 for improvements in the Corporation’s planning process, which the Corporation is refusing even to consider.
Future developments could include Bastion House on London Wall and the Museum of London site, both abutting the Barbican Estate in the West of the City, and two developments in the East of the City which will both affect the Grade I listed Bevis Marks synagogue.

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