A year ago Bexley council was desperate to find the cash to fund the new
Civic Offices. Most of the Howbury Centre had been sold, Tesco had agreed to buy the Broadway site
for about £25 million and the only major site yet to go
was Hill View. There had been local opposition and councillors Steven Hall and
James Hunt claimed to be on the side of the residents, although many of them doubted it.
James Hunt represented the residents at the planning meeting and referred to Hill View’s problems with standing water and drainage. Nearby houses, he said, had “mushroom and fungus growing up the walls. If we lived there we wouldn’t want it”. He also objected to the plan which allowed flats to be built almost to the boundary of Marina Drive residents. The problems with the site and the plan were “a serious issue”.
The principal objector, Mr. David Burke was able to speak for two minutes and 30 seconds before being told to shut up by chairman councillor Reader. The developer, Bellway Homes, was allowed to speak in favour of the scheme for five and a half minutes.
During the meeting councillor Colin Tandy expressed concern about the poor drainage in the area as did former councillor Mike Slaughter.
After much faffing about with tape measures the planning officers confirmed that the scheme broke all the council’s own rules on proximities and overlooking windows. Boundaries were up to six metres closer than allowed. Former councillor Simon Windle didn’t like that at all.
Nevertheless councillor Val Clark said “this is a very good scheme” and former councillor Kerry Allon spoke in favour too. When it came to the vote, approval was unanimous. How could it be otherwise when their new HQ was at stake and leader Teresa O’Neill would have made it very clear what she wanted to see?
Following the perverse decision a resident sought a Judicial Review but that was abandoned after reaching court when Bexley council’s legal team said that if they lost, the council would merely approve a very slightly changed plan and make the resident jump through the same expensive legal hoop again - ad infinitum until he gave up.
Since then the old council offices have been knocked down and last Friday, after a week almost without rain, the site looked like this…
The heap is of crushed concrete and said by the workers there to contain asbestos. The flooding of local houses over the years and vibration from the current work has, according to insurance assessors, caused damage of around £250,000 to one house alone.
Note how in Photo 2 above the lake is being covered by a higher level plateau of earth which is displacing the water into nearby houses and gardens which are all at lower level than even the existing site
The local residents have been keen to organise a Neighbourhood Forum using the provisions of the Localism Act which requires the approval of Bexley council because it would force them to consult residents about developments in the area.
Naturally Bexley council is against that and has been sticking obstacles in the way by way of letters written on paper proclaiming ’Listening to you’ at its foot. How long will they be keeping up that pretence? They don’t even take any notice of their high profile consultations.
Whilst I was taking photographs it suddenly began to rain, wrecking my plans to take pictures of the dust which covered everything, instead I had to make do with pictures of the skid pan which immediately developed. Goodness knows how bad it became while I was driving home because the rain set in with a vengeance.
James Hunt was right when he said the area had serious drainage issues. Unfortunately he was not on the planning committee and powerless to do anything about it.
All the sheep who followed orders despite their reservations about the rule busting plans should be ashamed of themselves, but in Bexley every single Tory councillor who has voted against Teresa O’Neill is no longer a councillor.
Democracy. Listening to You, Working for You. In Bexley it is nothing but a bad joke. The council didn’t call their pet project Bexley First for nothing. Residents always come last when Teresa wants something badly enough.