Thursday, September 28, 2006

Mitcham Town Centre call-in

The recent decision on Mitcham Town Centre and the decision to review the planning brief(SPD) has been called in by members of the Labour group including myself. The Environment and Regeneration Panel will consider the call-in at its meeting on 9th October which will take place at the Merton Civic Centre in Morden. Now it will be interesting to see whether the documents requested are provided and whether the minority Tory administration try and withhold the documents from panel members. Anyway no doubt it will also allow us the opportunity to question the relevant people about their justification for changing the plans which had undergone extensive consulation previously and which has so far been lacking in any of the papers provided.

Title of decision
Mitcham Town Centre Development Brief Supplementary Planning Document – Review and Revision of Parts of the SPD, Agenda Item 23, Cabinet 18th September 2006.

Which principle(s) of the decision-making has not been followed?
(ii) Due consultation and the taking of professional advice from officers
(iii) Respect for human rights and equalities
(iv) a presumption in favour of openness

Reason for the call-in and desired outcome

Due Consultation - As the redevelopment of Mitcham Town Centre effects the residents of the three Mitcham wards of Figges Marsh, Lavender and Cricket Green, there should have been full consultation with all relevant Members as to any new proposals being put forward to the public which would change the existing agreed scheme. No such consultation has occurred.

Respect for Human Rights and Equalities (The legal officer has ruled that this is not a valid reason for call-in) The proposal in relation to community facilities that further work will also be required in order to better establish actual need as opposed to the general wishes of the community (Amendment Item 9) displays a lack of respect for the already expressed wishes of the local community as evidenced in the results of the consultation on the existing SPD.

A Presumption in Favour of Openness The economic justification for the review of the SPD (noted in Point 1.5 of the report) has not been shared with Members so that the basis of the decision to review the SPD is unclear.

Desired outcome:

That Cabinet reconsider their decision and consult with all Members representing the wards concerned as to the nature and necessity of any review of the SPD

That the report into the economic viability of the current Mitcham Town Centre SPD be shared with all Members to establish an evidence base to justify the current decision or to overturn or amend it

That the already expressed wishes of the residents of Merton, as expressed via the consultation on the current SPD, be taken into account in any decision to review or revise the SPD.

That greater transparency in the decision taken is achieved

Witnesses requested

Cabinet Member Diane Neil Mills and Michael Owens Head of Regeneration

Specific information/documents requested

CBRE Report into the economic viability of the Mitcham Town Centre SPD
Correspondence by letter or e.mail with developers in relation to economic viability and/or any proposed changes
Advice by officers in writing by letter or e.mail to the Cabinet members on economic viability and/or the proposed changes


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Martin, I'm on the relevant scrutiny committee so look forward to discussing the call in with your colleagues! All the docs requested have, I think, been provided. The CBRE report makes interesting reading. Why you think the executive would not reveal that report and the others requested I dont know. As I said when Mitcham regeneration was raised at the last scrutiny meeting, its important we have a bit of cross party agreement on the regeneration of Mitcham. Political point scoring will only put developers off and that will be to the detriment of the residents of Mitcham. I dont think there was any aim to disregard the views of the Labour cllrs - it was always expected that they would have their chance to review when any revised proposals went out to consulation or by call in. You need to accept that we now have a Conservative administration and it runs on the cabinet system introduced by Labour and as such the ability of all non cabinet members (Labour , Tory or otherwise) to input into this level of decision making is limited. I would also point out the lack of meaningful consulation undertaken by the last Labour administration with Conservative cllrs in relation to the major Wimbledon developments that have gone ahead or been given consent.
Marc Hanson

3:12 pm  
Blogger Martin Whelton said...

Yes the CRBE report does make interesting reading though of course as it is on green paper I cannot comment. The report was requested a few weeks ago though was witheld only after the call-in was it provided. What is important is that the scheme is viable and does contain consulatation with residents. At the end of the day on Mitcham the Council is only an enabler not a provider, any SPD will have to be viable otherwise no developer will touch the development. The last SPD has undergone extensive consulation as well, indeed the Tories did not even make any comment when the last proposal was about. In relation to Wimbledon we did have consultation with the then Conservative opposition on the proposals and generally a consensus existed on the proposals though small difference did exist.

12:26 am  

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