Conservatives call for ‘full review’ of Greenwich Council planning problems

Conservative councillors in Greenwich will put their proposal for a ‘full review’ of problems in the council’s planning department to a vote at the Town Hall, after a continued backlog in processing applications and several high profile errors in handling appeals.

In August it emerged that Labour-run Greenwich Council is set to spend £50,000 of taxpayer funds by hiring external consultants at £45 an hour to resolve its planning applications backlog – an issues first raised by Conservative councillors in October 2016.

At a council meeting last December, Labour cabinet member responsible, Danny Thorpe, assured Conservative councillors the problem would be addressed from January 2017, which has not materialised. Since then, Council has been admonished for making major mistakes in handling planning appeals. These mistakes have included failing to present evidence to the Planning Inspectorate in objection to a new William Hill on Plumstead High Street, and failing to properly record its rejection of a phone mast off Siebert Road. In the case of the former, the Planning Inspectorate accused Greenwich Council of “clear, abject and repeated failure” to present evidence to the applicant’s appeal.

A motion proposing a ‘full review’ of problems in the planning department will be put forward on Wednesday (18th October) by Conservative opposition Leader Matt Hartley and Conservative councillor Geoff Brighty.

Councillor Matt Hartley, Leader of Greenwich Conservatives, said: “We first raised this issue last October, and were assured that the problems in the planning department would be resolved from January. Officers are working extremely hard, but unfortunately Labour councillors have completely failed to get to grips with this issue. With the taxpayer footing the bill, the Council need to conduct a full review to get to bottom of these problems, and ensure they are resolved as quickly as possible.”

To read the full text of the motion proposing a review see here.

To find out how you can watch tonight's Full Council, and for what to expect, see Cllr Matt Hartley's blog on the meeting.