What is the future of video meetings in Wandsworth?

Author: Cyril Richert

wandsworth_virtual_PAC_24Feb21

One year ago started the first lockdown in England due to the spread of Covid cases. From that date, the usage of video-conference tools exploded: Zoom meetings for home schooling, Microsoft Teams to maintain communication in companies, Google Meet, but also Houseparty and many other similar tools to keep in touch with friends and love ones. All around the country, Councils had to adapt in an unprecedent move to not only continue functioning on a day-to-day basis, but allow the necessity scrutiny that forms part of the local democracy, with online committee meetings, publicly accessible.

In this unprecedented event, the government gave permission to hold such meetings in virtual mode. Unfortunately, the Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 runs out on 6 May 2021, and the government has decided not to extend the emergency permission (arguing that it would require primary legislation, and the parliament has other priorities in the context). Indoor meetings will be permitted from 17 May, as per Government’s roadmap. Continue reading

Does Wandsworth lie about its record of affordable housing provision?

Author Cyril Richert

Wandsworth officers in charge of the draft Local Plan write:

“There is a strong record of affordable housing provision in the borough with 885 new affordable homes delivered between 2016/17 and 2018/19.”

For any observant of Wandsworth planning approval in recent years, this statement seems to contradict the general perception of the local trend. Even the Mayor of London seemed to think that Wandsworth was not meeting it’s target on affordability. In 2018, officers told us that, although they were not prepared when this topic was challenged by the Mayor of London to justify approval for the Homebase-Swandon Way scheme, they since double checked figures and found the borough meets its target (in general terms).

Reality is: it’s not true! Wandsworth has missed 4 out of 5 times its global target Continue reading

Has Wandsworth done a good job in drafting the new Local Plan?

Author: Cyril Richert

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Local Plan examination – Hearing session 8th July 2015

CJAG has submitted a response to the consultation on the draft Local Plan for Wandsworth. We found the new local plan to be quite disorganised, with some striking misleading parts with political bias. But most importantly, although the team of officers worked for 2 years on the document (giving us 8 weeks to review it!), the site specific analyses are lacking major details, not taking into account local context and some important sites have just been ignored. Continue reading

Planning Forum meeting 20th January 2021

Author: Cyril Richert

Planning Forum on Team Meeting – 20/01/2021

The biannual planning forum, the informal information sharing group organised by the Council for community representatives, was again organised on video-call, due to the current Covid restrictions. Although not ideal, it allows for a good level of participation and works well. A large part of the agenda was dedicated to the draft Local Plan, and therefore, we will only focus on the matter in this article. Continue reading

Planning Forum meeting 1st July 2020

Author: Cyril Richert

Remote planning forum on July 1st 2020

On Wednesday 1st July was organised the Planning Forum meeting. For special times come special meetings and for the first time the meeting was organised fully remote, using Microsoft Team video-conference tool. We had the usual “We lost him“… “We lost him completely now“… “Sorry folks, that’s the technology…” but all in all it was a prolific meeting well organised. Continue reading

Wandsworth runs a workshop to discuss the future Local Plan

Authors: Cyril Richert & David Curran

You may never have heard of the Local Plan, but it’s important. It’s a fairly weighty document that sets the overall vision for almost all future development in the Borough – it’s a key thing that future planning applications will be assessed against, as it gives a steer on what can and can’t be done, and what the Council will be looking for from developers. To complicate matters, it has to fit together with the ever-changing policies of central Government, as well as the wider London plan. It has to be reviewed every few years as priorities evolve and new challenges emerge, and this is a big exercise that Wandsworth’s currently working on.  Continue reading

Planning Forum meeting 22nd January 2020

Author: Cyril Richert

Second meeting with Cllr Guy Humphries, current chair of the Planning Application Committee for Wandsworth. It followed the Council’s workshop on the future local plan the week before, which participants commented that it was well organised.

I attended on behalf of CJAG and noted that, although promised by Mr Humphrey at the last meeting, an official response to CJAG’s proposal for planning reforms has not been provided by the Council. Beside the minutes that are received later, I summarise below parts of the discussion. Continue reading

When other countries are weighing urbanism rules over private interest

Author: Cyril Richert

Porte de Montreuil project – Credit in leJDD.fr: Lautreimage / Play-Time

London has rows of 4-storey Victorian houses, Paris has got 6-storey Haussmann buildings, both inherited from the 19th century. During the 20th century, the French city had a few attempt to build towers, with the – nearly unanimously disliked by Parisians – 210 m Montparnasse tower and a cluster of high rise buildings along the river in the west of Paris. In the meantime, the city of London developed high-rise in its centre, with Tower 42 acting as a landmark for the financial district amongst other taller buildings, later joined by the Gherkin.

However things started to diverge at the beginning of the 21st century. While Paris stayed mostly the same (and that is mostly due to the Montparnasse tower, as shortly after its construction was voted a law in 1977 to limit the size to 37 m [1] on all new buildings [2]), London initiated a more drastic change of its skyline when Ken Livingstone became Mayor of London in 2000. Continue reading

Planning Forum meeting 3rd July 2019

Author: Cyril Richert

New era or continuity for the Planning Forum? The future will decide but so far the most visible change was a new Chair, as Cllr Sweet as been replaced by Cllr Guy Humphries (due to the last cabinet reshuffle) and probably the most relevant change was actually the proposal to have Community Groups involved within the draft of the next Local Plan through workshop(s). Continue reading