So the die is cast, then…
Given that it’s taken 24 years or so to get this far, one further week to wait isn’t too much to ask. Though you can forget about getting much work done in the meantime.
This is where everything we’ve wished for since 1991 (and especially post 28/5) starts getting real. It’s when things actually get decided, even though it’s not once and for all.
That will only finally happen once the Section 106s get dealt with, when the Mayor of London and the Secretary of State for whatever have their $0.02. Not to mention the small matter of getting a “yes” vote at Crown House a week today.
It’s all very exciting. And very, very nervewracking…
There are plenty of reasons to be (cautiously) optimistic, not least the planning bods recommending it. Their report is a bit long – about 260 odd pages of it – but your editor read it last night, and again today, and a lot of it is just stuff you already knew.
The big organisations are onside, the NIMBYs seem to have been given a bit of a cold shoulder as well. Perhaps planning officials the world over have finally become fed up of their constant self-indulgent hectoring?
I don’t doubt the big submission on pages 85-87 is there for a reason, and if nothing else it neutralises any effect the local name-and-address-supplied brigade would otherwise have.
Those in favour outweigh those against, but even if it didn’t, it’s pretty much superficial anyway. You know the Tesco behind the home end at Fratton Park? Over 4000 objected to it – didn’t stop it getting built, mind…
Plus the bulk of legitimate objections seem to be covered in some way, shape or form. Parking will undoubtedly be tricky, but most who don’t need to drive won’t – there’s no point, and it is London.
It seems that the big issue isn’t the parking but the whole flooding thing. At least, that’s the part of the whole project that has the most words dedicated to it.
All you need to know is that the Enviroment Agency have OKed it, and having been round various parts of Docklands in recent months, your editor does find it implausible that you can’t build on flood plains.
Fortunately, the EA agree, and let’s be honest here – half of London would be one big field if you couldn’t deal with drainage.
Traffic, parking, pollution etc seems to be in hand. The recommendation even points out that it’s in an industrial estate in a crappy area of the borough.
OK, they didn’t use those exact words, although it would have been funny if they did. But it’s good that they’ve pretty much stated what we already knew – the area around Plough Lane is a shithole, and us going in there will make it a lot nicer.
Parking itself does seem to be along the lines of, it’s up to the locals if they want Community Parking Zones or not. Like much of the built-up areas of the capital, you’re better off walking or getting the bus.
I imagine it’ll be a bit like the Waitrose at Raynes Park, namely there’s just enough spaces for the residents, who will get priority, but things like Zipcar will be encouraged.
So, on the surface of it, it’s a pretty good submission, and one that does appear to have addressed all the (reasonable) issues that the consultations have thrown up.
Which leads us to the local councillors…
To be honest, you have to pray they don’t confirm your editor’s cynicism of the political class – I honestly wouldn’t put it past any of them to reject it simply to make a political gesture.
The hope is that enough of them don’t act like that. According to a couple of people who know these sort of things, big projects like ours tend not to suffer from that, but as one put it – there’s always a first time.
Politically, it would be very stupid for them to reject it without a good solid planning reason. Many reading this will have at least one councillor who represents them on the committee, and memories are long.
In the buildup to next Thursday, there’s going to be a lot of column inches about this, and it’s going to look very bad on them if they say no. It will be a damaging bodyblow, emotionally, if they rejected it, but it won’t be the killer blow.
The good news is that we can appeal if we need to. And then it goes out of the hands of the politicians and into the hands of the professionals.
That will mean more money, and more time, spent, but your editor once saw an appeal relating to a much smaller project and the language used is far more, well, “proper”.
With luck, it won’t come to that stage. This site has always adopted the attitude that we’ll get NPL eventually, but I’d rather us vault over the biggest hurdle of the lot first time next week.
Should we get the OK, there’s still much to be done, but psychologically it will be the biggest obstacle out of the way. Then we really can believe we’re going home, and I was at school the last time I felt that.
Oh, and one final thing for those who have read the submission – I assume Nottingham Forest are now our second favourite club…?