14 October 2011 – Shooters Hill

14 October 2011 – Shooters Hill

14 October 2011 – Shooters Hill – NOGOE is about Saving Greenwich Park so is not actually involved with the huge tide of grassroots opposition to Greenwich Council’s highly controversial application (11/1765/F) to itself for permission to develop Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) at 341 Shooters Hill but,

as the local bloggers are determined to think we are, this is by way of a contribution to the debate.

The scope for using Metropolitan Open Land for development is highly restricted.

The presumption is against any use except in very exceptional circumstances.

Building a riding school for the local community on it – when (a) there are already three other riding schools in the Borough and (b) there is land available for use on the Greenwich Peninsula which would not result in the people of the Borough losing valuable green open space – is not exceptional enough to justify what is proposed. 

So far, the Council has failed to explain how it would balance the harm caused by the development against the supposed benefit.

Handing Hadlow College a £1.6 million equestrian facility to run could be in breach of EU law on competitive tendering, and giving them this role is not a “very special circumstance”: if a standalone application to develop the enhanced facilities for use by Hadlow College had been made, it would have been refused on MOL grounds.

The proposed development amounts to a seven-fold increase in the buildings “footprint” on this site, much larger than what is built on the site at present (“a building used as a day centre for adults with learning difficulties”).

That alone is grounds for refusal of the application because of a High Court/Court of Appeal decision that overturned planning consent because the development was larger than what was there before:

R (on the application of Heath and Hampstead Society) v Camden London Borough Council [2007] EWHC 977 (Admin)

upheld by the Court of Appeal

The Queen on the application of Heath & Hampstead Society and Alex & Thalis Vlachos and London Borough of Camden [2008] EWCA Civ 193.

So, all the circumstances considered, Greenwich Council is exposing itself to an application for judicial review.

It is worth pointing out also that the Leader of the Council is a member of the Greenwich Council planning board and that he has again. and wholly improperly, pre-empted the planning board decision –

just as he did with the original proposal to use Greenwich Park as the 2012 venue – here he is quoted in Horse & Hound, 23 August 2011: “Cllr Chris Roberts, leader of Greenwich Council, said: ‘This will introduce thousands of London children to the thrill of horse riding and provide future educational opportunities.'”…