Newham council's Strategic Development Committee has decided to defer discussions on the planning application submitted by property company Obsidian for redeveloping Forest Gate, which were due to take place at its next meeting on 21 February. This decision was made with the agreement of the committee chair, Cllr Conor McAuley and means the plans will now most likely be reviewed again on 20 March. In an e-mail, Karen Dennis, Head of Technical Support Planning & Development Services, states:
Another reason, a more likely one, is that council officers had recommended refusal of planning permission. A report drafted by Senior Planning Manager Ralph Mullen for the committee (now withdrawn) notes that objections were received from Kay Rowe Nursery School, the Methodist Church, Aston Mansfield Charitable Trust, the Woodgrange Society & Residents Association, 174 residents and the council's own Conservation Officer. Only two letters of support were received. The report recommends referral to the Mayor of London (GLA) saying the Council are minded to refuse application, as well as delegation of authority to the Director of Strategic Regeneration, Planning and Olympic Legacy to refuse full and outline planning permission and conservation area consent.
The reason for deferral is because the applicant has recently submitted amended plans and documents for the Council to consider, and wishes for these to be formally assessed prior to any Council decision. The Council will shortly be reconsulting local residents as well as other statutory consultees regarding the amendments.
There is a powerful argument that Obsidian should have been better prepared before submitting their plans and have only themselves to blame for the level of opposition. Instead, they face the prospect of effectively rewriting their proposal from scratch. Unless Obsidian's proposals are drastically amended, it is also hard to see what further consultation with residents, who vehemently oppose the plans, can possibly achieve.
So why on earth is Newham council giving them more time for a plan that is so fundamentally flawed?