|Government Overrides Council over Super Sewer Site|
Action "reduces chances of delay" to "nationally significant project"
The Government has stepped in to override Hammersmith and Fulham Council over plans for the Carnwath Road site which is Thames Water's preferred location for an access shaft to the proposed Thames Tunnel, or the super sewer as it is widely known.
The council says a Government official, representing the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), wrote to the council this week to say: "Without specific authorisation from DCLG, your authority cannot grant planning permission, or enter into any agreement or other arrangements, or pass any resolution, in connection with the possible grant of planning permission".
The council has reacted angrily to the letter, saying it appears to to pave the way for the site to be used by Thames Water as a construction site.
This intention has been confirmed by a Communities and Local Government spokesman, who says: " The Government considers the Thames Tunnel to be a nationally significant infrastructure project and our decisive action now reduces the chance of delay and the possibility of escalating costs from sites being lost that may potentially be needed for building this project."
Cllr Nick Botterill H&F Council Deputy Leader says: " This is a bolt out of the blue that fundamentally goes against the Government’s localism agenda."
As well as vocally campaigning against the Thames Tunnel project, H&F Council is supporting protests from groups of residents living in the surrounding area.
The proposed site, to the west of Wandsworth Bridge, collectively called Carnwath Road Riverside by Thames Water incorporates Carnwath Road Industrial Estate and Whiffin and Hurlingham Wharves.
Construction would take around six years and would result in an industrial building on the site as well as the access shaft beneath. Thames Water has produced an image of what the building might look like.
The council's plans for the site, as outlined in its South Fulham Riverside draft supplementary planning document are for different redevelopment plans, which it says would transform the area from its industrial past into a new residential mixed-use area.
These plans, which it says received overwhelming support from residents at recent workshops coordinated by the Prince’s Foundation, include the construction of at least 2,200 new homes, plus shops, community facilities, public spaces and the opening up of the river for water based uses.
However, the plans brings the council into direct conflict with both Mayor Boris Johnson and the Port of London Authority. Hurlingham Wharf, part of the land on Carnwath Road earmarked by Thames Water is a safeguarded wharf, which means it is protected from redevelopment into non-port use.
Of the 25 safeguarded wharves west of the Thames Barrier, Hurlingham is one of three chosen to be brought back into industrial use. After being disused for some years, the wharf is currently being used as an open storage site.
Cllr Botterill says the council will now be exploring its options. "The council, local residents and the landowners have all come together and worked with the Prince of Wales’s Foundation to formulate a master plan for the area and a truly localist approach has been at the heart of our process," he says>
"We will be exploring our options but the Secretary of State does appear to have over stepped his remit as in predetermining the matter of site selection ahead of the formal consultation process which has not concluded.
"We will strongly oppose the destruction of our neighbourhoods and the derailment of vitally needed regeneration proposals to make way for the monstrous white elephant that is Thames Water’s super sewer."
March 2, 2012