A mistake in the planning process has put the entire regeneration plan in jeopardy.
Those of you who have been following the saga of the Manor Park planning application will be aware how strongly QWAG felt about the initial regeneration plan. We explained in our article Park and hide (12th February 2006) how a huge opportunity to realise the full potential of Manor Park was being wasted.
A month later we were able to announce a partial success in our article Manor Park planning application update I (14th March 2006). A revised Landscape Master Plan indicated that the densely vegetated band of thorny species had been replaced by a less dense, more sympathetic planting scheme that is in keeping with the woodland character of the riverside. However the revised plan still includes the railings that QWAG believes are not required. QWAG has continued to urge the council that the need for railings be reviewed and their use restricted to those places where they are thought to be absolutely necessary.
On the 30th March the planning application was due to be heard by the council’s planning committee, with QWAG prepared once again to argue the case against fencing off the river. But at the last minute it was noticed that the application makes reference to an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). This means that the application should have been through an additional specialist consultation process prior to going before the committee, but this had not taken place. A suggestion to hear the application now and review any major issues arising from the EIA later was rejected by the committee, who decided to defer consideration.
The delay caused by the deferral has put the entire regeneration plan in jeopardy. The Environment Agency (EA) is committed to complete the flood alleviation works and vacate the park by the end of the year. It now seems likely that the delay will force the EA to revert to its previous plan for the park, returning it to the drab state it was in before it was occupied. Such a move would almost certainly rule out any hope of integrating the Quaggy into the park for the forseeable future.
QWAG will post further updates on the progress of the planning application as more information becomes available.