Published: 7 April, 2016
• THE news that Cllr Phil Jones must think the unthinkable and take the council into partnership with private property developers is most disturbing.
Councils and developers are unnatural partners. Councils are accountable to voters and visitors and they have a responsibility to plan for the very long term. Developers are often concerned primarily with sustainable medium-term profits or hit-and-run quick wins.
Let’s hope this council is lucky enough to be matched with one of the lesser-spotted, ethical developers. Clearly the council is under immense pressure to build new homes at all costs, whether they be affordable to locals or merely safety deposits in the sky for remote investors; and as the pressure mounts mistakes will be made and short-term driving factors will dominate.
This will put even more pressure on Big Society’s unpaid volunteers who are striving to protect our parks, open spaces and our dormant water transport systems.
The New Journal has reported that yet another strategic wharf is under threat. The price of a few homes could be the blocking of the arteries of London’s future transport system.
If we are not vigilant then the council could end up causing the same type of irreversible damage to our waterways as Dr Richard Beeching inflicted upon our railways 50 years ago.
Our priorities will change for the remainder of this decade. Resisting new housing is unhelpful but we should certainly be challenging inflexible designs that are not future-proofed. Cynics dismiss water-borne freight revival as fantasy but in 30 years’ time they could be proved very wrong and I want an assurance that the ground floors of all new canal-side developments will be convertible when future generations need their amenities back.
It’s not unreasonable to expect the council to think laterally, especially in difficult, unenviable situations such as this.
Friends of Regent’s Canal