Planning – don’t you just despair? part two
Last week I was criticising the craven compliance towards officers and the politically blessed that meant our planning system in this country still owed more to medieval petitions from commoners to the Dukes and Duchesses than it did an objective place shaping mechanism. This week we were dealing with the consequences.
American puritans might not be able to predict the end of the world but residents, local councillors and the police were unerringly accurate in their criticisms of aspects of the new development in Lostock when it went to planning. And of course they were ignored.
The police made representations that the proximity of the redeveloped play area to the new Over-55s flats with deck access was problematic. Neighbours complained that their lives would be impacted by the car parks at the rear and expressed little faith in the assurances of an electronically secure system.
Now with the barrier controls on the car park broken beyond repair (did they ever work!) the car parks have turned into an area not for parking cars but a hide-away for innocent pursuits or otherwise. The official play area is so designed that any activities in the evening are impacting on the homes around it. The police are being pulled into it and resources redirected due problems as much to do with design as criminality.
Things had reached such a pitch that Councillor Acton and myself arranged for senior officers from the different agencies to come and hear and respond to residents’ complaints. The good news was the support for police, pcsos and community safety officers. There was near-universal support for ASBOs and the Conservatives are making a huge error in abolishing these ASBOs. The Conservatives are the party who are weak on law and order and are seen to be so. Ideally we’d have liked Trafford Housing Trust to have provided someone at director level to the meeting and it does feel that staff are sometimes exposed to criticism that is not their’s to shoulder. Nevertheless, progress was made and I do feel some of the difficulties can be alleviated but we’re still left with a play area too near homes. We can design out football from the play area, we can seal the loose stones that get thrown at windows. But really these problems of proximity were identified at planning stage by everyone but planning officers and Conservative Councillors. The press releases of the time were the usual self-congratulatory pieces of tosh about a much needed development. Yes it was much needed but you still need to get the plans right and our planning authorities failed to in their primary duty.
Trafford’s Conservative Planners will always counter any criticism of themselves by pointing at the low level of successful appeals. Unfortunately you can only appeal against refusal to grant permission. Lostock residents can’t appeal against the flaws in the design that are blighting their lives and residents around the football stadium will not be able to appeal against the imposition of rock concerts when their kids are doing their exams. The lack of successful appeals is therefore a completely useless measure of the effective place shaping that should be happening since there is no appeal against a rubber stamp.
Labour Group AGM – I was confirmed in my position as shadow for Transformation and Resources and reappointed to Transport for Greater Manchester Committee. I will also serve on Accounts and Audit Committee and continue as Press Officer. Laurence is continuing as our planning spokesperson and Dave as leader. We are in excellent shape and if we can maintain the momentum of the last election there’s a batch of seats that would fall to us. That has to be the aim so it’s a year of serious politics.
Went to see City play Stoke. Having been unable to get a ticket for Wembley, I wasn’t going to miss the last match of the season. Campaigning for the local elections had meant I wasn’t able to queue when my loyalty points brought me into contention for a cup final ticket. Absolutely nothing to do with politics I know but these are good times for football in Manchester and I have also to congratulate United on the premiership title. I’m looking forward to the installation of Plaques to commemorate the lives of Duncan Edwards and Tommy Taylor; two of the famous Busby Babes who lived in this locality. The ceremonies are to take place on the 8th July details here. It will be a moving tribute to two of our greatest footballers.
School gates at Victoria Park. Parents are rightly worried about the effects of these horrendus cuts that targetting women and families in particular.
Lostock meeting discussed above.