Search

Gove Asked to Call in Greenwich Planning Decision Over ‘Cover Up’ Allegations

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities

The planning row over the development of a property sold by Greenwich Council has escalated today as residents call on the Secretary of State to ‘call in’ decision.

In a recent turn of events, allegations of potential misconduct and a ‘cover-up’ by the Royal Borough of Greenwich have emerged raising concerns about transparency and accountability. The controversy centres around a property sale and its subsequent redevelopment, prompting calls for the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove, to intervene.

The focal point of these allegations is the property at 75 Ashburnham Grove, located in the heart of Greenwich. The property was sold by Greenwich Council to developer Grosvenor Hill Social Impact Group Ltd, with no additional planning permission sought for its redevelopment. The revelations raised questions from residents about the ethical conduct of the local council and its commitment to open governance.

Questions have been raised as to whether the Council can be objective in considering the retrospective planning application.

Freedom of Information Request

Yesterday, it was revealed by this journal that a recent Freedom of Information (FOI) request sought to shed light on the Royal Borough of Greenwich’s dealings with Grosvenor Hill and other entities involved in the property’s sale and subsequent development. However, the FOI response was delayed for months, and it is unclear why.  

In the FOI response the Council included no correspondence or documentation regarding the submission of applications for self-contained studio flats at 75 Ashburnham Grove. Local residents have said the gaps in information casts doubts on the council’s decision-making process.  

Greenwich Council apologised for an over 60 day delay in responding to the FOI.

Surprisingly, no correspondence involving key individuals responsible for Council Estates, Capital Assets, Planning, and Regeneration, notably Cabinet Members for Housing and Regeneration, was forthcoming in response to the FOI request.

The Planning Committee is due to make a decision on the retrospective planning application in the coming weeks and questions have been raised about a potential conflict of interest issue given the Council had agreed to house residents in the property with the developer at the point of sale.

Local residents and concerned citizens are demanding answers and accountability from the Royal Borough of Greenwich. The lack of transparency surrounding the property sale and redevelopment underscores the urgent need for thorough investigations and external inquiries if necessary. The potential cover-up indicated by the FOI response highlights the importance of open and accountable governance, especially when dealing with matters involving public resources and valuable properties.

With a site sold by the Council to a developer, without planning permission considered at the time, and with a significant number of people on the housing waiting list, questions will be asked over whether the council will be able to objectively consider the application.

Call for Intervention by the Secretary of State

In light of these concerns, local residents and community members have called on the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove, to intervene and review the planning decision at 75 Ashburnham Grove. Local residents have said the conflict of interest and potential cover-up warrant an impartial and comprehensive evaluation of the case. In the letter, the authors of the letter said, “Owing to a serious conflict of interest, we do not believe that the decision of the planning committee will be objective.”

The local Member of Parliament for Greenwich and Shadow Housing Minister, Matthew Pennycock has also been asked to intervene by writing to the Secretary of State to look into the matter.

Final Thought

There are two issues at question in this story.

Does Greenwich Council have a conflict of interest as both the seller of this site and now the planning authority over the current owner. Were agreements improperly made ahead of the sale?

Secondly, has the Council complied fully with the FOI request to investigate this matter? An external investigation may be necessary to uncover any irregularities, ensure accountability, and restore public trust.

Share

Related Topics

Latest

Generative AI in Social Care

Earlier this month, representatives of thirty organisations and individuals working in Adult Social Care met at the University of Oxford, Reuben College, to discuss the benefits and risks of using ‘generative AI’ in social care.

Video Features

How Can we Level Up the UK Sustainably?

Does Democracy Require Proportional Representation?

Marking LGBT+ History Month 2024

How Can Plugging the Skills Gap Support Decarbonisation?

Subscribe to our newsletter for your free digital copy of the journal!

Receive our latest insights, future journals as soon as they are published and get invited to our exclusive events and webinars.

Newsletter Signups
?
?

We respect your privacy and will not share your email address with any third party. Your personal data will be collected and handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Never miss an issue by subcribing to our newsletter!

Receive our latest insights and all future journals as soon as they are published and get invited to our exclusive events and webinars.

Newsletter Signups
?
?

We respect your privacy and will not share your email address with any third party. Your personal data will be collected and handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Never miss an issue by subcribing to our newsletter!

Receive our latest insights and all future journals as soon as they are published and get invited to our exclusive events and webinars.

Newsletter Signups
?
?

We respect your privacy and will not share your email address with any third party. Your personal data will be collected and handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Newsletter Signup

Receive our latest insights as soon as they are published and get invited to our exclusive events and webinars.

Newsletter Signups
?
?

We respect your privacy and will not share your email address with any third party. Your personal data will be collected and handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy.