A little while ago we published an item on this blog querying again with the Council and the TMO the continuing delays to the Grenfell Tower Project. We criticised the lack of transparency, and pleaded for more information to be provided to the residents of Grenfell Tower. Needless to say no-one at the Council or the TMO saw fit to respond in any way to our blog, even though we know they keep a very close watch on it, and would dearly love to silence us completely.
Since publishing that piece we have been doing our own research and succeeded in locating the planning approval for the Grenfell Project which was issued on 10th January this year. Anyone familiar with these decision notices will know that they invariably come with a number of planning conditions attached which the applicants are required to meet before they can begin work. This is all perfectly normal. However, one of the planning conditions attached to the Grenfell Project (Condition 11) is especially interesting, and especially problematic, in our opinion. We reproduce the text of this condition below:
The development hereby permitted shall not be implemented until a Construction Traffic Management Plan has been submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority. The statement should include:
• routeing of demolition, excavation and construction vehicles;
• access arrangements to the site;
• the estimated number of vehicles per day/week;
• details of any vehicle holding area;
• details of the vehicle call up procedure;
• estimates for the number and type of parking suspensions that will be required;
• details of any diversion, disruption or other abnormal use of the public highway during demolition, excavation and construction works;
• a strategy for coordinating the connection of services on site with any programmed work to utilities upon adjacent land;
• work programme and/or timescale for each phase of the demolition, excavation and construction works; and
• where works cannot be contained wholly within the site a plan should be submitted showing the site layout on the highway including extent of hoarding, pedestrian routes, parking bay suspensions and remaining road width for vehicle movements.
The development shall not be carried out except in accordance with the approved Construction Traffic Management Plan.
The full decision notice is available for download via this link: Grenfell Decision Notice
The requirement for a traffic management plan is a perfectly normal condition to which any building project would be subject. However, in the case of Grenfell Tower it raises very difficult logistical problems which we believe may be impossible to resolve, at least in the near term. Because the KALC site fencing hugs the base of Grenfell Tower in what we can only describe as a strangle-hold, there is literally not enough room left to swing a cat. We suspect, therefore, that under current circumstances the creation of a traffic management plan for this project is logistically impossible – hence the continuing and seemingly interminable delays. In our view a viable traffic management plan cannot be produced until the KALC project is virtually complete and the ‘Berlin Wall’ comes down.
This raises the question of whether the planners considered this major obstacle to the Grenfell Project at earlier stages in the planning process. If they did, then they have cynically misled local residents into false and unrealistic expectations that the Grenfell Project could, and would, be delivered in paralell to, and in synch with, the KALC development. Conversely if they failed to realise that delivering both projects in paralell was not viable, then the planning process was flawed and incompetent right from the start. So which is it? We can’t even begin to speculate!
This same impasse also raises a further unavoidable question as to whether the Aldridge people, and the RBKC planners and Cabinet, will be willing to have the ‘Grand Opening’ of the new academy spoiled by unfinished landscaping and the accompanying safety hazards caused by the need to use the space around Grenfell Tower to accomodate the extensive logistics needed for the Grenfell Project – high rise scaffolding, HGV access, deliveries and storage of materials, plant and equipment, etc.
If the mindset of those in power at Hornton Street is as contemptuous of our community as our previous piece ‘All animals…’ suggests – and we have little reason to believe otherwise – we can’t help but wonder if there is, or ever has been, any genuine will on the part of those in power to deliver the Grenfell Tower Project as promised. It seems to us that the only advantage this would hold for the powers that be would be the cladding of the exterior of the tower so that it complements the appearance of the academy, rather than have it continue to serve as a reminder to users of the new complex of the neglected ghetto right next door to the so-called prestige KALC development.
The cost/benefit analysis that will ultimately decide the fate of Grenfell Tower is, of course, entirely out of residents’ hands, as it has always been, and remains the prerogative of the ruling RBKC elite, whose attitude to the residents of Lancaster West has always been at best disdainful, and at worst utterly contemptuous.
If and when the Grenfell Project does proceed we would speculate that the area most likely to be designated to accomodate the project site office and accompanying logistics, will be the space that includes the area formerly occupied by the Grenfell Tower playground, in which case the preteen children of the Grenfell area will have an even longer wait than expected before they again have a playground to replace the one that was so callously taken from them, and which they so desperately needed. That need still exists and is no less pressing now than it ever was.