Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Marmsworth - Another consultation failure at British Waterways

As reported in Narrowboatworld and elsewhere, another outright failure by British Waterways to consult adequately has ended in farce.

This highlights again for those who care to take notice what a fundamentally incapable organisation BW so often is. I don't suppose we will ever know for sure how much time and resources went into these applications, how much of our money has been wasted, due basic lack of consideration for and communication with the communities BW supposedly works with.

BW spin about how they want to be accountable and inclusive. You will appreciate why the BW bashers like me laugh at this proposition. They seem blind to the lessons of Commerce Road at Brentford, Castle Mill boatyard in Oxford, Berkhamstead and all the other examples where rather than working with the local community they bulldoze ahead arrogantly without consulting effectively, then wonder why the objections to their plans come fast and furious.

There is of course a common thread in these cases. These attempts to bulldoze through planning applications always occur where BW has a financial interest in the redevelopment of the site. If they believe they might make money through their property interests, many normal considerations are it seems over-ridden.

As I have said before in many forums, there is a fundamental conflict of interest in BW's present structure. Their position as a property developer and their reliance on that to generate income appears to frequently be allowed to over-ride their wider duties.

What was proposed and the objections received can be viewed by using the following references in the Aylesbury Vale DC planning applications search engine:


It is interesting to note that the Parish Council at the site of the proposed development felt it had to write to the planning authority, implying it has not been directly consulted by BW and their partners, and requesting that the planning application be deferred so they could consider it more carefully.

The irony is that the objections from the boating community would never have occurred if BW had thought to make some simple provision to maintain the basic boating facilities of access to water and sanitation that are presently available at the site. Maintaining (or heaven forbid improving) facilities for their boating customers is of course apparently still not something on the list of BW's priorities as it re-develops land by the waterways.

'Big Up' to:

- Local resident Stuart R , the parish Council and others who had the temerity to suggest that some of the site redevelopment should include parking facilities for local boaters and the wider community using the Grand Union canal!

- Coal Boat owner Peter H and C Boden who individually point out the value of retaining some wharf frontage for commercial loading.

Sorry to the many others who bothered to send their sensible objections for not listing you all here. If anyone is interested to see the full range of objections, make yourself comfortable, then use the link above...

Who in BW is responsible for such farces is what I want to know.

Of course if BW did effective local consultation in the first place, many of these difficulties could be avoided.

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