No public inquiry into Shooters Hill equestrian centre

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has decided not to get involved in Greenwich Council’s controversial decision to grant planning permission to an equestrian centre on open land at Shooters Hill, reports e-Shooters Hill.

Woodlands Farm trust chair Barry Gray had asked the government to look into the matter, pointing out that Greenwich’s planning officers’ report into the scheme contained “a significant number of inaccuracies” and calling the decision – which was split down party lines – was “ill informed” and “irrational”.

The response seems to come down to the government’s much-talked-about “localism” agenda…

The Government is committed to give more power to councils and communities to make their own decisions on planning issues, and believes planning decisions should be made at the local level wherever possible. The Secretary of State has carefully considered the impact of the proposal and the key policy issues, which this case raises. In his opinion, the proposals do not: involve a conflict with national policies on important matters; have significant effects beyond their immediate locality; give rise to substantial regional or national controversy; raise significant architectural and urban design issues; or involve the interests of national security or of Foreign Governments. Nor does he consider that there is any other sufficient reason to call the application in for his own determination.

I wonder what veteran Conservative councillor Dermot Poston, who called the application the worst he’d ever heard when the planning board met a month ago, makes of all that? On the other hand, that shambolic planning meeting aside, it’s worth reading Daily Telegraph equestrian correspondent Pippa Cuckson’s largely positive view of the proposed centre.

The Blackheath donkeys that currently live on the site of the proposed centre are also due to find a new home at Abbey Wood, according to e-Shooters Hill, although their owner is unhappy with the idea of moving there.