REVEALED: Kingston planning chief proclaims residents ‘shouldn’t participate’ in Planning Decisions
LISTEN to Mike Kiely’s views on Resident Planning above, taken from the BBC World Tonight on Radio 4, 27/04/2020
KINGSTON Council has long had a reputation amongst residents for being a soft-touch on development, with controversial high-rise schemes including Tolworth Tower, The Old Post Office, Eden Walk and New Malden’s Multi-Storey Car Park being approved in recent years.
Residents have long complained at successive Development Control Committee meetings of how they feel the Council is acting on behalf of developers, rather than residents – a claim always strongly denied by successive administrations.
But a recording of Kingston Council’s Interim Planning ‘Transformation’ Lead, MIKE KIELY, this year would suggest otherwise.
In a recording released to the press (listen above), Mr Kiely can be heard discussing the joys of virtual meetings under the current Coronavirus Pandemic with other planning officers, saying they: “perhaps take out some of the, you know, excitable members and members of the public, which might actually be a good thing.”
But what exactly did Mr Kiely mean by that? Was he, Kingston’s Chief Planning Officer, really suggesting that it was better not having to deal with the public when considering planning applications?
He clarified his comments on The World Tonight on BBC Radio 4 on 27th April 2020, whilst still employed by Kingston Council, saying: “Planning committees are a meeting in public, so the public have a right to witness it. They don’t participate in it and shouldn’t participate in it.”
Helen Hinton, Leader of the Kingston Independent Residents Group, said: “These comments have really shocked me – we all said Kingston didn’t care about residents when it came to planning, but this simply confirms it. Kingston Council don’t want residents participating in planning. It’s no surprise we officially have the worst planning department in the country.”
Helen has launched a petition calling upon Nazeya Hussain, Kingston Council’s Director of Growth, to appear before the Council and explain why Kingston’s Planning Chief thinks residents ‘shouldn’t participate’ in meetings, and whether this is a view held by the entire Planning Department.
Helen added: “We only need 567 residents to sign this petition to force planning officers to give answers to residents and insist they do better on planning.”
You can sign the petition below: