this planning decision on the Goldhawk Road will begin in 10 days time. You may recall that this was one of those decisions forced through by Hammersmith & Fulham Council against the express wishes of local residents. In this case it aslo led to the loss of over 200 jobs with the departure of Innocent Drinks, one of the local businesses who were threatened by the development of the area.
Council Leader Stephen Greenhlagh, however, did not count on the resourcefulness of the Brackenbury Residents Association led by the indomitable Rosemary Pettit. This band of residents have fought the Council to the extent that central government stepped in to call the decision in to an official inquiry, much to the ill-disguised anger of the Council, who at the time put out a press release questioning the "national interest" involved in the issue.
Since then the Residents Association have been fundraising like mad, and doing it in a way that only they could to pay for their barristers at the inquiry. Thousands of jars of marmalade have been made, cakes have been sold and even free concerts have been staged. And they also got political, producing posters like the one above, which in my view played a large role in confounding the expectation that Tory candidate Shaun Bailey would win the Hammersmith seat. Instead Andy Slaughter MP was re-elected.
The Council has no need to fundraise, they will pay their barristers with our money. But what they could do is act on what Stephen Greenhalgh pledged, just days ago, to listen to residents and adopt a new approach to these planning issues. This would surely mean the Council withdrawing this planning decision immediately and starting again. Will they do this? Well if they don't here's what will happen:
The inquiry starts at 10am on Wednesday, 25 May at the Town Hall. The Inspector, Olivia Spencer BA (Hons) BSc (Hons) DipArch RI, will announce when evidence will be heard. The residents expect the developer to go first, then the Council and then local people; independent witnesses will also speak. The inquiry is expected to last until 2 June, excluding Monday. The inquiry is open to all - so do come along and see how it works.
The inquiry will start with opening statements from the developer, the Council and then the residents. Evidence will be called. Witnesses will read their statements (if short) or they may be taken as read. Counsel for the witness will draw out points; witnesses may be cross-examined by other barristers. Counsel for the witness is allowed to ask further questions. At the end of the inquiry the inspector will visit the estate and the surrounding area. The Inspector will make a recommendation to the Secretary of State within a few weeks.
18th APRIL UPDATE - The Fulham Chronicle is now reporting this story here