Following last week’s news that Southwark Council’s legal challenge of the proposed super-sewer work site at Chambers Wharf failed for being submitted a day too late, Southwark’s opposition Lib Dem leader Anood Al-Samerai used an urgent question at Wednesday’s council assembly meeting to urge Labour council leader Peter John to apologise for the legal error.

Here’s what happened:

 

Chambers Wharf
Chambers Wharf

Southwark Council has come under fire after its legal challenge to plans to use Chambers Wharf as a construction site for Thames Water’s super-sewer was rejected for being a day too late.

“We are extremely disappointed by this decision and the Government’s decision to not consider alternatives to Chambers Wharf,” said Cllr Peter John, leader of the council.

“We always knew this was going to be a tough battle, but I wanted Government Ministers to have to justify to local residents why they think its acceptable that their lives should be blighted in this way.  I again repeat my challenge to Eric Pickles and Liz Truss.  Come to Bermondsey and speak to people about why they think seven years of 24 hour a day noise next to homes and schools is OK.

“We will now go back and look at our options, take advice from counsel and make a decision on our next steps. Meanwhile we will continue to work with residents to mitigate the harm they will suffer.

This was a complex legal case which was argued for four hours by QCs at court yesterday. Unfortunately the judge disagreed our lawyers’ interpretation of the legislation and court practice rules. This decision emphasises the challenge local communities and councils will face when objecting to major infrastructure projects.”

Liberal Democrat councillor for Riverside ward, Eliza Mann, who attended the High Court hearing, said: “This is a bitter blow for all the residents, local councillors and local MP who have been fighting Thames Water’s plans to build the super sewer at Chambers Wharf.”

Lib Dem leader Cllr Anood Al-Samerai said “We all trusted the council to represent our community in court.  Now the case for a judicial review has been thrown out all because the council couldn’t manage to submit its paperwork on time

“This must rank among one of the council’s worst-ever bungles.  It is totally incompetent and amateur.  The leader of the council must now explain why Southwark has let its residents and our community down so badly.”

Campaign chairman Barney Holbeche said: “Save Your Riverside is very disappointed that Southwark’s legal challenge to the TTT project in respect of impacts at Chambers Wharf has been rejected by the High Court – and on a legal technicality rather than the merits of the case.”

“We will continue to press Thames Water, the Infrastructure Provider, and the contractors to minimise the impacts of this massive construction imposition on the doorsteps of thousands of Southwark residents in the years to come. We thank LB Southwark for all their efforts and will work closely with them on residents’ behalf.”

crane

The leader of Southwark Council has suggested that parts of the red crane at Odessa Street could be turned into a work of public art when the site is redeveloped.

Plans – reported here last week – to extend the Thames Path and build new homes on the site of the derelict nightclub and youth club at Odessa Street – were endorsed by the borough’s cabinet on Tuesday.

Surrey Docks ward councillor David Hubber addressed the meeting and called for affordable housing to be provided on-site as part of the proposed development by Hollybrook Homes.

He described the red crane as ‘nothing more than a perch for pigeons’  but asked for heritage concerns to be taken on board.

Listen to the full audio of the cabinet discussion below:

Plans for a new riverboat pier in Rotherhithe to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower have received a favourable mention – but no promise of funds – from the Government in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.

The government will also discuss plans for a Growth Zone in Croydon, subject to value for money, and continues to support flourishing culture funded through local channels, including the proposal to construct a new pier in Rotherhithe.

“Our campaign to build a new pier in Rotherhithe is gathering momentum,” said Simon Hughes MP – who first went public with the proposal back in March.

“I was pleased to see the Chancellor of the Exchequer mention it in today’s Autumn Statement. Although we are six years away from the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower from England to America, if we are going to have a significant lasting memorial then it is important that plans are in place soon, so that the pier can be in use by commuters, local residents and visitors.

“The Mayflower sailed from Rotherhithe, and its crew came from the area – so it is absolutely right that Rotherhithe be a central part of the celebrations in 2020 and I will keep working to make this happen.”

crane

Next week Southwark’s cabinet will discuss plans to complete a ‘missing link’ in the Thames Path in Rotherhithe.

The council is proposing a deal with Hollybrook Homes for the redevelopment of the run-down former youth centre and nightclub in Odessa Street.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson recently agreed to lift a restrictive covenant dating back to the days of the London Docklands Development Corporation which required the former youth centre site to be used as open space.

Under the plans, the large dockside crane which dominates the site will be removed. The council claims it’s a safety risk because it is often used as a climbing frame and pigeon roost.

Hollybrook Homes will try to find a new home for the crane elsewhere, but if that fails it will be broken up.

When new homes are built on the site, the Thames Path will be extended along the riverside to connect with  the closed section at New Caledonian Wharf.

The council report acknowledges that some New Caledonian Wharf residents may object to the Thames Path being reinstated in front of their homes.

Introducing the report to next week’s Southwark cabinet meeting, Cllr Mark Williams, cabinet member for regeneration, planning and transport, writes:

The proposal set out in this report will bring together an empty night club and a redundant youth club and subject to the planning process, will deliver a key link in the Thames Footbath, enhanced public realm, much needed housing and generate a capital receipt to be invested back into the borough. The river footpath has been a long standing initiative that is extremely successful enabling local residents and visitors to experience and benefit from the fantastic asset that is the River Thames. This proposal will result in the removal of a blockage in the path in this part of Rotherhithe. Not only that, it will provide a café where walkers will be able to enjoy unique views, and in turn encourage further use of the path.

There will be public consultation both as part of the statutory planning process and in designing the new public realm. This will enable the proposed regeneration to include the views of the local community. The former youth facility that is proposed to be included in the regeneration is being reprovided to a modern and better standard in the new Dockland Settlement facility on Salter Road, so local youth provision will be enhanced.

This proposal is good news not only for the people of Surrey Docks but for the people of Southwark and visitors from across the world – I commend this report to cabinet.

DSCF0121
The dead-end section of the Thames Path in front of New Caledonian Wharf will be reopened if the Odessa Street development goes ahead

The government has called for further investigation into plans for a new bridge across the Thames between Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf.

The National Infrastructure Plan – published by the Treasury on Tuesday – contains this sentence:

An interesting proposal made by Sustrans, and worth looking at in more detail, would be a new pedestrian and cycle bridge from Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf – which could be called the Brunel Bridge in tribute to one of the great figures in the history of UK infrastructure.

Southwark Council recently gave its in-principle backing to the proposed bridge, and Mayor of London Boris Johnson has also expressed interest in the scheme.

Simon Hughes MP said: “It is clear to me that a river crossing between Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf is long overdue.

“This is a project which I have championed, and which will make a real difference to the lives of a great many local people.

“The government has now made a commitment to take an interest in the proposal for a new cycle and pedestrian bridge, named the Brunel Bridge in tribute to the great father and son pioneers of UK infrastructure.

“This is great progress – and I will keep fighting to deliver the Brunel Bridge for the people of Bermondsey, Rotherhithe and the rest of London.”

Just over three years since the theft of the statue of Dr Alfred Salter from Bermondsey Wall East, the whole family –  including a new statue of Ada Salter – is now returned to the riverside.

The new statues have been created by the original artist Diane Gorvin.

Sunday afternoon’s unveiling ceremony featured speeches by Southwark’s deputy mayor Cllr Neil Coyle, council leader Cllr Peter John and Rt Hon Simon Hughes MP.

According to the council leader, the new Ada Salter statue is the first statue of a female politician to be erected in London.

In his speech, Simon Hughes MP called for  Southwark Council to name a new school in the borough after Ada Salter to complement the existing Alfred Salter Primary School.

Johanna Crawshaw, Dr Salter’s grandniece, unveiled the replacement statue of the legendary Bermondsey MP.

Ada Salter’s statue was unveiled by Nick Hudson and Janet Kendall, grandnephew and grandniece of Bermondsey’s first woman Mayor.

Dr Ruth Wallis, director of public health for Lambeth and Southwark, removed the cover from the statue of young Joyce Salter which has been in storage since the theft of her father’s statue three years ago.

Maisie Carter and her grandson Archie unveiled the sculpture of the Salter family cat which has been returned to its place on the river wall.

Other guests at the event included peace campaigner Bruce Kent and the deputy lieutenant for Southwark, Jenny Bianco.

An exhibition of photographs of the Salters was displayed after the ceremony in the nearby church of St Peter & the Guardian Angels.

Cllr Peter John, Leader of Southwark Council, said today: “I can now confirm we have issued the High Court with an application for a Judicial Review into the Secretaries of State’s decision to approve plans for the super sewer in their current form, because of the devastating impact the work will have on the lives of the thousands of people who live, work and go to school around the proposed Chamber’s Wharf tunnel drive site.

“Our position was supported by the findings of the five individual planning inspectors who, after six months of hearing from experts and residents alike, concluded that using Chambers Wharf as a drive site would have very significant impacts on the lives of residents and that Abbey Mills would be a more appropriate site with far less impact. This point was ignored by the Secretaries of State who did not even consider the alternatives put forward and simply felt the need for the project outweighed our concerns about the way Chambers Wharf was being used.

“We have discussed this with legal counsel and believe we have a strong case, but we are under no illusions, we are very much David taking on Goliath. However, unlike the Secretaries of State, we can not simply ignore the devastating impact this work will have on the people living, working and going to school around Chambers Wharf and we are prepared to take this to court in order to get the best possible outcome for them.”

Barney Holbeche, chair of the Save Your Riverside residents’ campaign group, said: “It is very surprising and disappointing that ministers chose to ignore advice from the planning inspectorate and therefore go against the national policy statement on waste water which states that the tunnel should only be given consent if significant adverse impacts on health and quality of life from noise have been avoided. The credibility of the planning process is in doubt because of this decision on the tunnel and we therefore welcome the decision of Southwark Council to question the legalities of it.”

Mayor of London Boris Johnson says he ‘might well’ consider supporting the construction of a bridge across the Thames for pedestrians and cyclists linking Rotherhithe with Canary Wharf.

At Mayor’s Question Time on Wednesday, Lib Dem London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon revealed that transport charity Sustrans is to launch a competition for designs for a new bridge.

Ms Pidgeon said that a new bridge could help relieve overcrowding on the Jubilee line.

The Mayor replied: “Please tell [Sustrans] to come in as soon as possible and we’ll have a look at it … I do agree there should be a crossing in that area. Let’s see what they’re proposing.”

Tbe Mayor joked that a catapult across the Thames could be one option.