Council's Planning Board decide on Huntsman application at last, but final word with the Planning Inspectorate

The good news for many Cator Estate residents is that Greenwich Council's Planning Board has, finally, heard the Huntsman planning application and its members were united in opposing it.   At the meeting on 16th September the Board made clear its opposition to the applicant's controversial proposal to have a single point for vehicular access to the west of the site at the junction of Brooklands Park and Manor Way.  As part of the Kidbrooke Vision it was always understood that the main access to the development, on the former Huntsman playing fields, would be from the east side helping to integrate the development with the Kidbrooke regeneration project.

Also, the development is expected to have 131 new dwellings with obvious implications for vehicle movements. Local residents and Councillors were concerned about how the extra traffic likely with the developer's proposal  would impact on the narrow roads of the Cator Estate, especially Manor Way and Brooklands Park but also Blackheath Park, the effects on the already busy roads around Blackheath Village and safety at the point where Brooklands Park, Manor Way and a road serving the new housing would meet.

Councillors also agreed with other concerns about the application including the effect on the Conservation Area, the height, scale and massing of some of the proposed buildings and these issues are to be reflected in the Council's opposition.

While the site itself is in Middle Park and Sutcliffe Ward part of the Cator Estate falls into Blackheath Westcombe Ward.

Blackheath Westcombe Conservative Councillor Geoff Brighty, who is also a member of the Planning Board, spoke against the application and said after the meeting:

"I am glad that the Board was united in opposing the application and in particular the idea of shifting the main access point to the Cator Estate.  Opposition to that was, rightly, very strong and was a common thread through the many objections from residents but, of course, it is a pity that we were put into the position where we were not making the actual decision on it, as should have been the case, just agreeing a submission to the Planning Inspector."

And that is where the news could be less good for residents.

Councillor Brighty was critical of the way in which the applicants were able to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate citing Council delays in dealing with the application.  The appeal on non-determination was accepted by the Inspectorate.

He says "As a result we were, essentially, reduced to bit part players. When the Planning Board should having been making the decision we were only able to make a submission, a Statement of Case, to the Inspectorate    I am sure residents would have been happier for their local Councillors to have been making the decision and local
democracy has not been well served.  Still, we are where we are and I hope the Inspector will agree with residents and the Planning Board that the application is not appropriate."

The Planning Inspectorate will now hold a public inquiry, where it will consider all submissions including that from the Council, which is expected to start in November.