Last night, Islington Council’s Planning Committee unanimously rejected the Royal Mail Group’s (RMG) planning application for Mount Pleasant, echoing Camden’s Development Control Committee’s damning verdict two weeks ago. Some might say these decisions were a foregone conclusion after the applications were snatched by the Mayor a month ago at the behest of the RMG, leaving both Councils licking their wounds.
However, such frustrations do not concern the professional planners whose recommendations for rejection are based on sound planning principles and months of carefully analysis. Nine reasons were given for the rejection, ranging from the broad to the specific. The message, combined with the overwhelming sense of exasperation and anger at the RMG’s contempt for the planning process, was unambiguous.
Among the most memorable, albeit shocking, moments came after the applause had died down following the Mount Pleasant Association’s 15 minute deputation. In the hushed chamber, the RMG were offered an equally extended period to give their defence. The silence was deafening. The RMG could not even be bothered to make a representation! Such staggering arrogance clearly rankled officers, whose duty it has been to consider this application for the past nine months.
Voicing his utter dismay at having to watch public servants play along as unwilling characters in a ‘farce and a tragedy’ orchestrated by the RMG, Councillor George Allan claimed to have never seen anything like it in over three decades. Such strong sentiments were expressed by other councillors too, including the Committee Chair, Councillor Robert Khan, who summarised the RMG’s conduct throughout as ‘derisory and outrageous’.
The final salvo was launched by Councillor Phil Kelly who warned the RMG in no uncertain terms that their mystifying conceit and total disregard for local communities, local councils and local planning processes, will cost them dear.
The Mount Pleasant Association was established in response to the RMG’s contempt for local communities and stakeholders. Our initial objective was to see the scheme rejected in both councils so that a better proposal could be achieved. Last night we secured this objective, but the goalposts have changed and we must now take our message to the GLA. Armed with both councils’ rejections, our position could not be stronger.
Boris – if you are listening – you wanted to speed this decision up. You now have the decisions you need to make an informed judgment. Do what is right for London – reject this scheme now and let’s get on with the urgent task of delivering a world class development that meets the needs of all.