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"Use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?"

Monday, 20 April 2015

Kate Hoey MP attacks "shocking" Nine Elms development

A new reason to be grateful to live in the constituency held by Kate Hoey, an old-school Labour MP with some oddball ideas but her heart in the right place.

The constituency is called Vauxhall but it takes in a long thin slice of north and west Lambeth, including all of Stockwell and Clapham Town, most of Brixton and the mysteriously-named Vassall ward.

At an outdoor hustings in Kennington last weekend, Ms Hoey spoke out against the monstrous development of luxury housing alongside the river between Chelsea Bridge and Vauxhall, the development I have (yawn) very tediously tried to rebrand as Nine Elms Disease.

Interestingly, it seems most of this development is actually just outside her constituency, as the Vauxhall boundary (according to the OS constituencies map) runs more or less along the Wandsworth Road as far as Queenstown Road, then heads up Cedars Road to the north side of Clapham Common.

But in all other senses this development will have - is already having - a massive and baleful impact on
her constituencies. It's not just the transport and infrastructure pressure that all those new rich people's homes with their SUVs in their underground car parks will create on the surrounding streets, not the visual pollution already hideously apparent from the lego-style apartment blocks going up along the river front. You also have to look at the damage done to roads by the constant stream of tipper trucks on all the surrounding trunk roads for a start. Or, try breathing as you cycle up past Battersea Park on a windy day, and fill your lungs with acrid dust.

Ms Hoey kept her words short but to the point:

"I think what has happened along the South Bank and along Vauxhall has been shocking...We have lost out on so much value of that land. It has not gone into affordable housing but private developers."

Hear, hear, Kate! Good on you. So what will you do about it?

"I want to see a top band of council tax brought in for all those multi million developments along the river."

Yeah well, so do we all, it might help a bit.

Maybe you wonder why Kate hasn't made a bit more noise about this before now? Well, she had, but MPs have no role in planning decisions, and anyway, as already pointed out, the majority of the land is in the neighbouring Battersea constituency.

And what about some more drastic legislative action at a national level to remove planning consent powers from individual local authorities for schemes  which are so massive they will disrupt the lives of residents in all the surrounding boroughs as well?

The apologists for this development continue to extol the virtues of a new tube extension - to the Northern Line of all over-crowded lines, for god's sake! And the linear park, which in architects drawings looks like something out of a very scary video game. You can almost imagine the poor and the beggars and the scruffy kids clambering up the walls and fences to gawp at the rich within, and to dodge the plastic bullets and tasters of the private security guards….

Ok, a maybe not too distant fantasy… which in part could depend a bit on who one votes for next month. If I hadn't already decided, this latest speech would have reminded me there's really only one option.

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