The Green Party

Saturday, April 28, 2007


Back in October last year I noticed on a poster at my local railway station – Hackbridge – that Sutton Council had published a Planning Document on “Hackbridge – towards a Sustainable Suburb?” – an Issues Paper – and invited local residents to submit their views on the issues and draft proposals covered in the document.

Hackbridge is in the north of Sutton borough – with the River Wandle running along its western edge, the railway line along the east, Mitcham Common to the north and Beddington Park to the south. It has excellent road, rail, bus and tram links to the City (London Bridge) and West End (Victoria), Sutton, Croydon and Wimbledon. Employment and health are among the top third in England, income just in the top half – but the quality of housing, access to services and education outcomes are among the bottom half in England. It’s historically been a pretty neglected part of the Borough. BedZED is located in Hackbridge.

Having provided detailed feedback on the issues document, I was invited to a one-day workshop held at BedZED on 19 April – jointly hosted by:

- the Council Planning Department

- the BioRegional Development Group and

- the Future Hackbridge Group.

Sutton Council is embarking on a new way of planning for the future of communities. The traditional land use planning system is changing with a new style of local development plans which will go beyond traditional land use planning and embrace the requirements for Community Plans. The overall strategic requirements will be set by the London Plan and other planning documents prepared by the Mayor of London and individual Boroughs’ strategies will be set by the wider Community Strategy and the core development plan provisions of the Local Development Framework.

I know, this sounds, like an awful lot of words (!) – but the upshot is that this new style of planning gives considerable scope at the local level – and local residents and other stakeholders can really influence how their local community develops and ensure that it does so in as sustainable a way as possible.

Hackbridge has been identified as the first area in the Borough under the new style planning framework.

BioRegional ( is an independent environmental organisation which develops practical solutions for sustainable living. Key within that is their concept of “One Planet Living”, designed jointly with the World Wildlife Fund and which provides a model for measuring ecological footprints – showing how our lifestyles impact not only on the planet, but also on other people. It calculates how much productive land, freshwater and sea is needed to feed us and provide all the energy, water and materials we use in our daily lives. It also calculates the emissions generated from the oil, coal and gas we burn and determines how much land is required to absorb our waste. A One Planet lifestyle means having a footprint of less than 1.8 hectares per person – Sutton’s is 5.38 hectares per person, which is apparently 65% higher than our ecological budget (and just under the UK’s figure).

The Future Hackbridge Group comprises keen and skilled residents and business people and includes Bill Dunster – Hackbridge-based architect of BedZED. The Group have drawn up a paper with a view to Hackbridge becoming the UK’s (not just Sutton’s!) first sustainable suburb. It covers plans for the economic, social and environmental future of the area, with a SWOT analysis, vision and values statements, specific aims and objectives and a suggested set of phased action plans.

The concept of a sustainable suburb covers a number of themes, eg:

- reinforcing the role of retail and leisure within local centres

- protecting and promoting local environment

- promoting sustainable development patterns (with appropriate mix of housing types and employment)

- reducing car dependency

- improving the existing housing stock

- improving environmental sustainability (to include a number of "green community initiatives")

- improving the quality of design.

In total around 80 people attended the workshop and attendees included representatives from:

- the 3 host organisations

- Transport for London

- London Development Agency

- Local schools (and also pupils)

- Developer

- BedZED

- EcoLocal.

Local Councillors and the local MP (Tom Brake) were also present.

The day included presentations from, amongst others, the 3 host organisations, group work, involving site visits around the area and discussions / feedback presentations when we could offer our own ideas.

I believe this was a terrific example of true consultation, with real commitment shown from everyone involved and a shared enthusiasm to take this whole thing forward. The next step is for the hosts to put firm up on an integrated strategy and action plans – and to share these with local residents and ensure that everyone in the local community is asked for their ideas and kept fully aware.

I was there as a local resident – not representing the Green Party – and spoke at the end with the Chair of the Future Hackbridge Group (Simon Courage – a BedZED resident), explaining that I would like to be involved in all this in some way. I’ll keep you all informed of developments.

One final thought - I guess that Croydon Council may have similar plans for a particular area and, if so, it may be a good opportunity for a Green Party member to get involved.

If you would like any more information on what happened at the Hackbridge workshop, do please let me know.


George Dow

020 8773 4100

Next Meeting

Monday April 30th at the Spreadeagle 39, High St, Croydon, Surrey, CR0 1QD - map.

The meetings will start at 7.30pm, upstairs in the function room at the back which faces the Town Hall.

This is a Sutton & Croydon Green Party joint business meeting, and one of the main topics of discussion will be election candidates.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Next Meeting - Tuesday 10th April

The next meeting of the Sutton and Croydon Green Party will be on Tuesday 10th April at 8pm at the Centre for Environmental Initiatives (aka ecolocal) Carshalton, map here.

Please come along.
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