Mr Olsen, who joined protesters in the public gallery at last weeks' full council meeting, is alleged to have been a Director of numerous companies which were subsequently disolved and having run up huge losses of companies with whom he has been connected in the past. The claims are made by the Five Villages Preservation Trust - a campaign group that was formed to fight Orions' plans to build large numbers of houses in their area. The Telegraph reported the battle at the time and the developers look like pretty slick PR operators.
In their defence Orion say on their website that they are guided by the following principles, to:
- act with integrity and deliver what we say we will, when we say we will
- deliver the best in urban regeneration
- work in a transparent and straightforward way
- have the vision and skill to deliver extraordinary places
- harness the power of sport and culture-led developments
- create long lasting prosperity for our communities
- deliver capital growth for our shareholders and investors
Speaking to protestors who attended the meeting last week, and who continue to be very angry indeed about the way in which our Council appears to be ignoring them, are now looking at legal options, so this may be the next step in what is already shaping up to be a particularly bitterly fought battle.
Personally I'm still at a loss to understand how our Council can just sweep away a unique part of our history by demolishing the victorian row of shops on Goldhawk Road. The history of the Bush is surely what makes the area what it is, but it seems to have no place in our Councils' view of what our borough should look like in future.
In their defence however the Council did give me quite a positive statement earlier last week about the extent of their committment to listen. A spokesman said:
"The Council is 100 per cent committed to listening to the concerns of local people on plans to regenerate the market. We have spoken to numerous market traders, visitors and residents. We have held 15 hours of drop-in sessions and senior council officers have sat down with residents in their living rooms and across Shepherds Bush".
"We are now arranging a wider public meeting in the next few weeks so that we can continue to listen and respond to what people are saying".
"The Council has agreed an overarching vision. However, no detailed plans for Shepherds Bush Market have been submitted and will not be submitted from development partners without exhaustive discussion with local people. "
This is good stuff - and credit to them for committing to more, as they put it, "exhaustive discussion". I think the slight drawback is that part of the "overarching vision", which is already "agreed", very much includes knocking down the victorian row of shops - so that seems not to be on the table even for discussion. Hence the looming battle with both sides preparing for it.
Cllr Greenhalgh says on the one hand "We fully appreciate the historical importance of A Cooke's Pie and Mash Shop and the others businesses, like the fantastic textile shops, on the Goldhawk Road. That is exactly why the revised planning brief has the clear objective of protecting them" so you think 'great, they are saved'!
But he continues "..and rehousing them in high-quality retail accommodation along the Goldhawk Road frontage". In other words we're still going to bulldoze the buildings that have stood there since the 1880s whether you like it or not.
In the many battles that our Council have picked with local residents in recent years they have won most of them, leading to angry scenes and Conservative candidates losing elections. But on at least one battle the residents came out on top and the traders of Shepherd's Bush Market will be hoping to mount a similarly sucessful campaign.
Mr Olsen of Orion the developers himself says this:
“We are at the start of a journey to deliver a revitalised Shepherds Bush market and surrounding area.”
“We are looking forward to sharing our thinking with those living and working in the area and we recognise that building these relationships is vital to the future success of our work. There will be many opportunities for people to come and meet us and to discuss the emerging masterplan and the area’s future.”
Orion say they will now be working closely with market traders, businesses, residents and visitors to come up with a detailed masterplan for the site, with a planning application expected to be submitted to the council in 2011. So watch this space for more fun and games to come.