Southwark Council – Consultation for the lucky few

Very interesting couple of items in the latest People’s Republic of Southwark newsletter on the frustrations and secrecy surrounding Southwark Council’s attempts to actually ask people want they want regarding the question of affordable housing in the area and the future of Burgess Park. The first discretely advertised consultation is on whether the Council is any good at consultation! As the Council is not the most receptive and welcoming of local people’s actual thoughts, considerations and concerns, we thought it worth quoting the newsletter in full here to aid consultation:

It may be that some council officers really have nothing better to do than claim they’re consulting or have consulted. Extensively. The latest consultation are the planning ones and very hush hush, as Juliet Seymour of the Planning Department had sent, randomly or deliberately, information only to some people in Southwark, while the majority, who those same policies will affect, do not know they’re happening. They are not promoted on the council’s own website because that would mean anyone could see them and respond!

The first secret consultation is about how well the planning department consults.
The second one is the consultation on sustainability appraisal scoping report (part of the Affordable housing supplementary planning document)

Deadline to respond is 5pm on Friday 22nd October 2010

Extract from original email is below:

We are also currently preparing a new Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) for Affordable Housing and an affordable housing paper. The SPD and affordable housing paper will provide further guidance and information on how the council will provide good quality affordable housing. They will ensure that affordable housing contributes to creating a mix of housing of different tenures and prices throughout the borough. They will be a material consideration in deciding planning applications.

As part of this process a Sustainability Appraisal (SA) is required. The purpose of the SA and the scoping report is to promote sustainable development. The scoping report is the first stage in the Sustainability Appraisal process and sets out evidence (also known as baseline information) which describes what the borough is like now. Using the baseline information the scoping report identifies the key sustainability issues that will be addressed in the SPD and paper and identifies the indicators and baseline data which will be used to measure the impact of the SPD and paper on the area in the future.

The scoping report will be available for comment for five weeks between Friday 17 September and Friday 22 October 2010. You can tell us if you think we need to add other important issues for the borough to the Sustainability Appraisal report. All comments must be received by 5pm on Friday 22 October 2010.

The Scoping Report is available to view on the council’s website. If you have any queries please contact Alison Squires on 020 7525 5471, by email or at: Freepost SE1919/14, Planning Policy, Southwark Council, London SE1P 5EX


Rumour has it that originally only people / groups who live in very close physical proximity to the park were asked to join the stakeholders group. Which doesn’t explain the fact why there are any council officers within it at all, considering how few actually live in Southwark, let alone near Burgess Park. Nor does it explain Des Waters insisting that the park is not just for people in the area and people in Soutwark, but also many from other parts of London who would want to visit. There isn’t, to our knowledge, a single representative of future generations or people from Islington, Camden, Richmond etc on the stakeholder group.

Now the story seems to be different, and a number of other groups and people were invited to be vetted then voted on before they can become stakeholders. The rules this time round (not-made-up-as-they-went-along-at-all-although-there-don’t-seem-to-be-any-council-guidelines-on-stakeholders-outside-of-SCI-which-is-on-paper-super-inclusive) are that potential stakeholders have to literally compete with other potential stakeholders and convince the council officers (who-may-or-may-not-live-in-close-proximity-to-the-park) that they are worthy. And then there was democracy, a fictional creation by some Greek or other…

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