Town hall branded incompetent and secretive over multi-million Upper Holloway pub plans
PUBLISHED: 17:24 10 April 2013
The town hall is at the centre of a simmering row over a controversial multi-million pound plan to turn a pub into luxury homes.
A scheme to convert The Good Intent pub, in Wedmore Street, into six homes was submitted to Islington Council.
Despite more than 130 objections from residents, the decision was given to an individual officer to make rather than a planning committee in public – a process the council says is normal because they intended to turn down the application.
But the officer in question failed to make a decision in time – missing an eight-week deadline – leaving the developers free to take their case to the planning inspector.
An appeal has been heard and a decision on the application is expected in the next few months.
Elizabeth Case, secretary of Friends of Whittington Park, said: “The public have been gagged – we haven’t had a chance to speak openly about this.
“There was no public meeting and it wasn’t easy to find out when the appeal hearing was.
“In the end there were only three of us there and more than 100 objected. Nobody knows what is going on.
“This has absolutely no public benefit whatsoever.
“Whittington Park was built for the people of Islington – not so millionaires can have lovely views from their house.”
In January several conservation groups wrote an open letter questioning how the borough’s vulnerable heritage buildings are protected.
Meanwhile the town hall has received numerous complaints about alleged inefficiency in the planning department – in particular receiving letters where the deadline date for consultation is before the letter was sent.
Cllr Terry Stacy, leader of Islington’s opposition Liberal Democrat group, said: “With more than 100 people objecting to this I am completely bemused how the council can delegate this decision and still cock it up so it goes straight to the planning inspectorate.
“I can understand why people are furious at not having their voices heard. Islington looks like it will lose yet another public house.”
A council spokesman said the reason the deadline was missed was due to complicated negotiations with the applicant on the basis that the scheme was unacceptable.
Cllr James Murray, executive member for housing and planning, said: “The council’s planning policies offer strong protection for local pubs, by saying we won’t give permission for them to be converted or knocked down unless they’ve been empty for a long time.
“The council’s view for this pub is that the application should be refused, and that was the case we made to the planning inspector.”
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