At its October Cabinet meeting Labour Councillors decided to allocate an extra £8.2m to the Meridian Home Start (MHS) company to allow it to build more homes on the Shepherd Leas site in Eltham. The Cabinet also chose to reduce the price MHS had to pay for the site, meaning that there was further funding available to allow more intensive development of the plot.
The decision to increase the number of units for the Shepherd Leas site (which is opposite Falconwood Station) from the original plan of 40 to 70 homes was buried in an item called “Development Financing for Meridian Home Start”. Despite a petition from the Friend of Oxleas Woods of over 4,000 signatures opposing MHS’s plans for an 83 home, eleven storey development on the Shepherd Leas site the Councillors in the Cabinet voted the report through without any comment or question.
It was interesting to note that despite a public consultation on the plans for Shepherd Leas by MHS and the substantial petition opposing the proposals the report suggesting the extra money be allocated to enlarge the scheme stated that “No public consultation has taken place concerning the contents of this report” suggesting a lack of joined up thinking on this issue.
Opposition spokesman for Housing and Eltham Councillor Spencer Drury said “No one is doubting the need for more homes to be built, but once again, we find ourselves questioning the Council’s support for a scheme which simply isn’t in keeping with the area where it is being proposed. As the petition from the Friends of Oxleas Woods notes, the MHS plan would have a substantial impact on the neighbouring Shepherdleas Woods so the Council support for a 75% rise in homes on this site is unwelcome. Once again it appears that the Labour Council is not listening to local residents while spending millions of pounds of their money supporting schemes to which many people appear to be opposed.”
Spencer has submitted the following question for Full Council this week to highlight the fact that the Council simply isn’t listening to residents and to make sure that they cannot avoid this issue.
“I note that at the October Meeting of Cabinet it was agreed that the Council would provide an extra £8.2m to Meridian Home Start (MHS) to help them build a much larger development on the Shepherd Leas site than had originally been envisaged. In addition, the Council agreed to reduce the price of the Shepherds Leas site to allow MHS to afford to build more homes on the site. Given over 4,100 people have signed a petition opposing the over development of the Shepherds Leas site, can the Cabinet Member explain how increasing funding to allow the development of an extra 30 new homes (compared to the 40 originally proposed) adjacent to Shepherdleas Wood suggests that this Council is listening to its residents?” It is worth noting that the proposed Shepherd Leas development is only minutes walk from the Deansfield playing field site where the Council is considering allowing the removal of undergrowth and trees in the middle of Shepherdleas woods.