A Scottish Government Reporter has been appointed to investigate the ‘call-in’ of the housing development submitted by New City Vision to Glasgow City Council, to build 90 high end houses on North Kelvin Meadow and the Children’s Wood.
The plans were approved by Glasgow City Council on 26th of January 2016, who were minded to grant planning permission for the development after a planning committee vote of 8 against 6 in favour.
The Children’s Wood and community members delivered 6,000 petition signatures, and supporting evidence and letters, to the government on the 2nd of March asking the Government to ‘call-in’ the development plans for further scrutiny
The application was ‘called-in’ on the 11th March 2016 with the government report stating ‘given the loss of valued open space and possible conflict with policy, as well as the Council’s financial interest in the proposal it is considered that, on balance, it raise issues of national significance as to merit further scrutiny and determination by Scottish Ministers rather than by Glasgow City Council.’
The reporter will now decide on which method of investigation will be used; a hearing, report or Public Inquiry and we are calling on the appointed reporter to employ a full Public Inquiry. A Public Inquiry will allow a thorough investigation to be carried out and the truth to emerge.
There are good reasons for the reporter to embark on a full Public Inquiry. There has been no consultation on the proposals for the land in spite of claims that local “consultation” has taken place and this planning application goes against both local and national policies, it will destroy a highly valued and vitally important community greenspace and there is a clear conflict of interest within the council in terms of the financial gain.
Glasgow City Council have been determined to build on this piece of land, despite thousands of people objecting to the idea. We want to see this application get the investigation it deserves, and only a full Public Inquiry will do justice to the thousands of people who love this land and what it represents.
We believe that the Public Inquiry is the best method to use since it will call on witnesses and will get deeper into the issue and show that we have an active history an active present and a sustainable future.
Precedent is on our side; an almost identical housing plan(1996) was ‘called ‘-in’ and the appeal decision (ref P/PPA/260/5) rejected the housing plans. ‘That application was for 132 flats on the site of the current application. The reporter in that case found that “In an area of high residential density, this open space area is an amenity feature providing recreation of a quite different type from that which can be enjoyed in the nearby Botanic Gardens”. The Reporter continued “I am unable to find from the evidence that there will be no loss of amenity or that alternative provision of equal community benefit will result”. That appeal was dismissed and planning permission refused.”
We believe that we have an even stronger case given the level of community engagement and the Children’s Wood Sustainable Futures Project. The Children’s Wood project received full planning permission on the 26th of January (all present voted in favour of the plan) and now we are seeking to aquire land owners permission and to use the Community Empowerment Bill to either lease or buy the land so that the land can be passed on for generations to come.
However, true to form, Glasgow City Council have rejected our requests to lease or buy the land and they have even denied us the missives which were signed between New City Vision and the Council 7 years ago. Our Freedom of Information Request was rejected with Glasgow City Council stating that it was ‘commercially confident’ information and it was’not in the public interest”to show us the missives. We believe that it is unacceptable and unfair that a private developer can sit back and have priority to purchasing land for 7 years while the community is treated unfairly. We believe that they have no legal privilege because of the passage of time and are confident that if the need arises to take this to the commissioner we would be proved correct. We will also be highlighting this to the reporter.
Meanwhile, The Children’s Wood has funding secured from The Robertson Trust, The Royal Bank of Scotland and The Postcode Lottery (among others) and there are now two part time paid employees delivering our Sustainable Futures Project which includes building on work with 22 schools and nurseries, playgroups, develop growing projects for the foodbank and to create other community and intergenerational links as well as make the land even more beautifully wild. We just planted wild meadow plots with the RSPB and built more compost bins. Alongside this, are the many other informal uses of the land. The land has been continually in use for local recreation, enjoyment and leisure since the early 1990s, far longer than the developers claim and we want to see a full Public Inquiry so that the community gets the investigation they deserve.
The Herald.06.06.16 Front page, page 3 and page 15 with Open Letter
Evening Times 06.06.16