Proposed redevelopments around Golden Lane have caused much worry for its residents who are, understandably, keen to preserve the unique character of the area. More serious still is the sense of disenfranchisement that has developed amongst City residents who do not feel that their views on these most-important local matters are being given due consideration.
Matters relating to planning proposals are difficult for me to become involved in as decision-making powers lie with local authorities – not central government. It is, therefore, inappropriate for me to wade into an area outside my purview and attempt to influence the administrative process. Nevertheless, in my 18 years as MP I have always sought to promote consensual, even-handed exchange between communities and their local authority and am always prepared to make sure residents' feelings are well represented where necessary. With social integration a key challenge for many councils across London, it is in everyone’s interest to do all we can to promote open dialogues as we strive to develop convivial communities.
Over the past two years I have done all I can to represent the concerns of local people by imploring both the Corporation and the Department for Communities to take heed of local opposition to certain proposals, and in the case of one particularly controversial redevelopment, securing a call-in from the government. I raised these concerns with both the Corporation’s Chief Executive and the chair of the Standards Committee, and more recently with the Corporation’s Policy Committee chair, Catherine McGuinness, when we met this week. I have since written to Ms McGuinness to formalise our discussion and will, of course, share her response once I receive it.
Though, we have not always achieved our desired outcomes, I hope my actions have given strength to calls from local people to be given a more prominent role in the planning processes that inevitably affect them the most.