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Greens compile secret dossier on Livingstone

The Green Party is drawing up a dossier of 'dubious' developments that it believes will prove Ken Livingstone has 'systematically by-passed' his own planning rules for London's canals and rivers.

Party campaigners are contemplating a legal bid against the Mayor for disregarding guidance within the Blue Ribbon Network policy - a policy which was specifically introduced to protect the capital's waterways from unsuitable development.

Established by Livingstone, the 26-page network forms part of the London Plan and aims to raise the profile of London's waterways, encouraging sensitive projects in the future.

However a spokesman said that the Green Party has become convinced that Livingstone is choosing to ignore the policy document.

'The decision to grant planning permission for the overbearing eight storey Kings Place building on the Regents Canal at York Way is just one recent example of waterside development assessed, by boroughs and the London Mayor, with scant regard for the 26 pages of policies.'

Two months ago the party also publicly condemned Livingstone's for 'wrecking the character of the river frontage' by supporting the demolition of the 1930s Borthwick Wharf Cold Store in Deptford to make way for a luxury housing development.

Other recent examples include Willow Wren Wharf Bridge and Brentford Warehouse both on the Grand Union Canal in Hounslow.

According to the Greens, the planning inspector had acknowledged that the Willow Wren proposal, which campaigners believe could disrupt the local ecology, was not consistent with the Blue Ribbon policies. However the inspector still recommended the scheme for approval.

In the case of Brentford Warehouse, it is claimed the mayor failed to give support to plans aimed at retaining the building for water freight use, therefore going against key principles within the policy.

Among the other schemes where it is argued the policy was ignored include the City Road Basin master Plan for the Regents Canal, a housing development at Kew Bridge and The Vauxhall Tower.

In addition party members also claim the Mayor is ignoring three waterway watchdog groups he gave his official blessing to last year.

Set up to advise the Mayor the groups were also a creation of the London plan but, according to the Greens, both the Steering Group and London Canals Committee (LCC) have collapsed due to Mayoral inaction.

Though the third group, the Stakeholders Forum, continues to meet sporadically, it cannot make recommendations to the Mayor without the now defunct Steering group.

However neither this organisation nor the LCC has met since early 2004 because Livingstone has failed to appoint new chairs.

Green Party assembly member Jenny Jones said she believes the dossier will force the Mayor to start enforcing policies in the London Plan designed to protect the Thames and London's other waterways.

And the spokesman agreed. 'We are optimistic that the Mayor will act when presented with evidence that there is a pattern of neglect.'

by Richard Waite

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