COUNCIL OFFICERS SLAMMED OVER CARNEGIE LIBRARY REPORT – Controversial gym plan gets go ahead but what happens next?
Council officers came under fire at Tuesday night’s planning committee meeting which gave the go-ahead to hugely controversial plans to build a gym in the basement of the Carnegie library at Herne Hill.
David Taylor, on behalf of Herne Hill Society’s planning committee, said the application breached both Lambeth’s own policies and national policies. But the report was selective in only referring to those parts of the policy which supported the application, he added.
He said a number of statements in the NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) were not referred to in the report.
“We consider it is incomplete and misleading.
“This application has to be judged against planning policy. “We feel it breaches policy Q20 which refers to a development not diminishing its ability to remain viable in the long term and although Section 4.3.2 states that the viability of the organisation is not a planning issue, it is the viability of the use that we are questioning.
(Update: A supplementary report to the committee dated February 3rd states on page 32 that the lack of a business plan by GLL was not a material planning consideration adding: “The viability of the potential operator does not impact on the planning merits of the case – Ed.)
“There is no evidence given that a gym is viable. “The NPPF refers several times to viable uses and your own local plan refers to viability as a key planning issue in policy Q20. “So viability is absolutely a planning issue and the committee must take that into account.
Later he added: “There should be an assessment of the harm against the policies of the NPPF.”
But when Labour Cllr Diana Morris asked officers to comment on his reference to ‘harm’ she got a very brief reply about this being “in terms which are acceptable.”
And when she asked where the travel plan – a plan which normally accompanies such applications – was, officers told her no such plan had been made.
Cllr Bernard Gentry, the only opposition member on the planning committee, asked if the traffic study was site specific and told it wasn’t.
Asked why mature trees had to be lost at the rear of the library, an officer told him: “It makes sense in arboricultural terms.”
Cllr Gentry, who wanted the item deferred, said it would have been better if the application had been an outline one.
Referring to the use of ‘indicative’ when discussing planning conditions he said “I like certainty rather than uncertainty.”
The application before the committee, meeting at Bolney Meadow community centre in Vauxhall, was to grant conditional planning permission and to agree to delegate authority of the Director of Planning and Development to finalise the recommended conditions set out in the report to committee.
Condition 13 of that planning permission states: 13. Notwithstanding the provisions of the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 or the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 2015 (or any orders revoking and re-enacting those orders with or without modification), the D1 use on the ground floor and part of the first floor shall only be used as a library and for no other purposes. The flexible community uses and community café within the unit shall only operate ancillary to the library use.
Amenity reason: To ensure no other uses are introduced into the space which may cause nuisance or disturbance to the detriment of the amenities of adjoining occupiers or users of the area generally (policy Q2 of the London Borough of Lambeth Local Plan (2015).
At Tuesday night’s meeting the committee did add other conditions including one relating to lighting of the reception area at the library’s rear.
The application was, predictably, approved with all Labour councilors voting in favour.
A Lambeth council spokesman told News From Crystal Palace: “The conditions were agreed by the committee on Tuesday and the planning permission will be issued subject to those conditions. “Officers can’t change what was agreed by the committee.
“If Greenwich Leisure want to vary any of the conditions after the planning permission has been issued they can make an application under Section 73 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to the council to do so.
“If they do make such an application it will be dealt with by officers under delegated authority unless called in to PAC (planning applications committee) at the request of a councillor.”