I last wrote about the planning application for The Backstreet in November - Planning wheels grind exceeding slow - when it had been formally rejected by the Tower Hamlets planning committee. In fact, the official refusal notice wasn't issued until the 14th of December. As I noted at the time, there is a six month window in which the developer can launch an appeal, which means that today - the 14th of June 2018 - was the deadline.
This morning's email included a notification from the Tower Hamlets planning system of a change in status, to Appeal Received; the developers waited until the last possible day, before filing.
As you can see from the planning page, the appeal is due to be held by public inquiry. The rules for that are laid down by various statutory instruments, and those who made representations at the planning meetings should receive notifications automatically. Once the start date is set by, then local authority and interested people have five weeks to send representations. A hearing date will be set, which is normally within sixteen weeks of the start date. An Inspector is appointed, who will visit the site, and hold hearings - typically up to three days - and then report to the Secretary of State.
Submissions made during the planning process will be passed to the inquiry, so if you made an objection in the past, then that will be taken into account. It is also possible to make further representations online, and if it looks like that's necessary, we'll post full details of how to do it.
This is a long process - assuming the Planning Inspectorate agree that the process should be covered by an inquiry, it's likely at least four months away, and probably more, since the official start date of the process has not yet been set. Then there's the period after the inquiry when the information and recommendation is forwarded to the Secretary of State for the official decision. I don't know how long that typically takes, but it's worth noting that the planning meeting at which the application was rejected took place in August, and it was a further four months before the official notice was issued. Since we're already half way through June, there's a good chance any decision is not going to be made until the end of this year, or even early 2019. Once the appeal is finished, there's also the opportunity for the decision to be challenged in the High Court within a further six weeks.
It's also worth recalling the statement from the developer that they would give The Backstreet one year's notice of when they intend to start work on the site. The timetable for the inquiry process means that a decision is likely to come in the winter, and I suspect that starting work in the middle of winter is not something that the developer is likely to want to do. So, in the event of them succeeding - which is by no means certain, as the application was rejected on several grounds - then I think there's a good chance that work is unlikely to commence until Spring 2020.
There have been rumours of Backstreet's imminent demise for about as long as I've been going there. None of them has yet come to pass, and I'm fairly confident that we'll be able to see in the start of 2020 in the club, even if the developer prevails with their appeal.
If they don't, and decide to come up with a new proposal, it's back to the drawing board - and remember that the current proposal was first shown to local residents in the Autumn of 2013. Even allowing for a faster process, with all the objections taken into account, this is a long and slow process. So if someone tells you that the bulldozers are moving in soon, they're almost certainly wrong. There's plenty of time left to party.
Thursday 14 June, Nigel, aka SubDirectory (3).