I chose not to go to the Erith Quarry planning meeting on the grounds that
the unanimous vote in favour of building over most of it was a foregone conclusion. Another factor was that
a comprehensive summary of a council meeting takes longer than the meeting
itself even when I have witnessed it and jotted down the times of any
interesting comment. That time can be doubled when working from a webcast
recording and spare time of that magnitude is simply not available. In any case,
I assumed that the quarry approval would be adequately
reported elsewhere. In
the event it may not have been, hence the following few words.
While I was employed by BT and its predecessors I twice came across situations where councils requested inducements to allow planning applications which has probably coloured my view of planning departments in general, not that I have ever come across hard evidence that that sort of thing happens in Bexley - only a couple of reports from people who quickly disappeared when I suggested they might be viewed as equally culpable. Probably anything remotely like a brown envelope is a hopelessly out of date concept; what you have to do now is offer to build a school for nothing.
This is what is to happen at Erith Quarry. In return for a much needed school Bexley council has turned its back on its aspirations towards 50% affordable homes and conveniently overlooked the need for a Viability Assessment on the site.
Councillor Abena Oppong-Asare put the case for affordable homes on behalf of the Labour Group of Bexley council. She was ignored as is to be expected. There will be no affordable homes in Erith Quarry because if the house prices are not kept high the developer would not be able to afford to build the school.
As if the school is not a big enough bonus for Bexley council, it is going to take money from it (The Community Infrastructure Levy) and give nothing back. It will not even be adopting the roads which means the householders will pay service charges to a management company as well as council tax to Bexley and all the council will have to do is empty the bins.
Bexley council rarely takes any notice of planning objections but in this case any objectors never stood a chance. The grass snakes in the quarry may be in grave danger but there is no shortage of vipers in the council chamber.