The Planning Applications Committee (“PAC”) of Lambeth Council on 20 April voted to approve the planning application by “Event Lambeth” – which is part of Lambeth Council – for a series of events on Clapham Common in 2021. This approval still needs to go to the Secretary of State for DEFRA for consent. I understand that the Planning Inspectorate will determine the application on behalf of DEFRA. I urge you to reject it.
I am a resident of Clapham and have lived some 200 yards from the Common for 25 years. I spoke at the Lambeth PAC as an objector to the application. The text of my submission is attached. Suffice it to say that there was no discussion at all at the meeting about the results of the public consultation. The fact of the matter is that of 318 comments on the consultation website, 315 were objections i.e. 99%. It also noteworthy that at the PAC meeting three objectors spoke and two supporters. The objectors were all local residents. The two supporters turned out to be Lambeth Council employees. It could not be clearer that residents of Lambeth do not want these series of huge events to take place. Yet Lambeth is ignoring the message; it is almost a case of “let’s have a consultation because we want to show how open and democratic we are, but we don’t have to take any account of the result”. On top of which Lambeth is effectively marking its own homework by having one arm (the PAC) opining on an application by another arm (Event Lambeth).
I recognise that you are looking at a planning application and not opining on matters of local democracy, but I would suggest you should have regard to the criteria set out in section 39 of the Commons Act 2006 and on these grounds I submit that consent should be withheld. They are:
- The interests of persons having rights in relation to, or occupying, the land (and in particular persons exercising rights of common over it)
- The interests of the neighbourhood
- The public interest, which includes the public interest in nature conservation, conservation of the landscape, the protection of public rights of access….
I think the first two points can be taken together. Residents and indeed any member of the public has rights to use the Common and this cannot be distinguished from the interests of the neighbourhood. The neighbourhood has said unequivocally that it did not want these events taking place. As regards the third point, many respondents to the consultation noted that resurfacing/reseeding of the part of the Common where events take place had been undertaken over the winter of 2020/21 during which time the area has been fenced off. There are certainly some voices questioning the way this work has been done but nonetheless it has been done with a view to sustaining the Common – at a reported cost of £200,000 – and this will now be wasted if the surface is trashed by several hundred thousand feet and all the heavy equipment that is an inevitable concomitant of these big events. Lambeth could scarcely do a better job of NOT conserving the landscape.