A guest post from Fiona Anderson, Chairman of the Ashchurch Residents Association
Local Councillor Harry Phibbs commented on this site on his continued disappointment that the controversial architects Porphyrios were not chosen to design the 282-292 Goldhawk Road housing development.
“A small committee – mostly of planners, developers and architects made the decision. There were only TWO residents on it. No councillors. They chose the ugly, modernist PTEa one.”
“My own expectation is that had residents had the choice then the beautiful Porphyrios design would have proved more popular. I would have accepted either result as the choice would have been with the residents rather than just a tiny clique”.
As chairman of the Ashchurch Residents Association (ARA), I was one of the two residents who had a vote on that committee. I’d point out those two votes were two more votes than residents had in December 2009, when Harry’s Conservative colleagues on the Hammersmith and Fulham planning committee voted for the hideous “Mediterranean Village” scheme despite the large number of residents in the committee room protesting against it!
“I would have liked the choice of design to be put to all residents in surrounding streets. Perhaps the thousand or so living closest to the site. It would have been not so much a consultation as a referendum”.
It’s interesting that Harry is suggesting this radical planning approach now the Conservatives have lost control of the council. But he also ignores the enormous amount of hard work the ARA committee did in making sure residents in the streets surrounding the development
saw the different architects’ plans and having a say. We may not have reached a thousand but we certainly reached several hundred people in the immediately surrounding streets.
We would have been delighted to have a residents’ referendum on the scheme.
Of course we got nothing of the sort from the Conservative-led council. But from the consultation we did, we found that people favoured the PTEA offer, not least because when we went back to both architects asking for more drawings and details, PTEA were much more responsive than Porphyrios. We felt they might actually listen to us; none of our councillors had.
The PTEA scheme, while not perfect, is now under construction and due for completion in March next year. We don’t like the idea of it being gated and we want a lot more trees planted to replace those lost from the site. But let’s be clear, the drawn out planning process from 2006 did not give residents any confidence in the Conservative controlled council’s commitment to real consultation. It’s now for the Labour led council to demonstrate a different and more democratic approach.
There was a public meeting at the Town Hall on 27/9/12 about this scheme – when the council was still Conservative – and I argued for the same approach I now argue for.
I spoke with all the clarity and passion I could muster – evidently my comments left no impression…
But let’s not quibble about the past.
I am delighted that ARA agree that residents referendum on the design of planning schemes is the right approach.