To receive declarations by members and officers of the existence and nature of any personal or prejudicial interests in matters on this agenda.
2.1 Councillor Robert Davis declared that any Members of the Majority Party who had or would make representations on the applications on the agenda were his friends. He also advised that in his capacity as Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Planning it was inevitable and part of his role that he got to know, meet and talk to leading members of the planning and property industry including landowners and developers and their professional teams such as architects, surveyors, planning consultants, lawyers and public affairs advisers as well as residents, residents associations and amenity groups. It was his practice to make such declarations. He stated that it did not mean that they were his personal friends or that he had a pecuniary interest, but that he had worked with them in his capacity as Cabinet Member for Planning.
2.2 Councillor Davis explained that all four Members of the Committee were provided a week before the meeting with a full set of papers including a detailed officer’s report on each application together with bundles of every single letter or e-mail received in respect of every application including all letters and e-mails containing objections or giving support. Members of the Committee read through everything in detail prior to the meeting. Accordingly, if an issue or comment made by a correspondent was not specifically mentioned at the meeting in the officers presentation or by Members of the Committee, because of the need to get through a long agenda, it did not mean that Members had ignored the issue as they will have read about it and comments made by correspondents in the papers read prior to the meeting.
2.3 Councillor Davis also declared that in his capacity as the Cabinet Member for the Built Environment with specific responsibility for planning he regularly meets with developers as part of the City Council’s pre-application engagement with applicants. This was wholly in accordance with normal protocols and the terms set out in the Localism Act 2011 and as amplified in the Communities and Local Government Act Guidance document “A Plain English Guide to the Localism Act”. Councillor Davis added that the meetings held with applicants and in some case objectors too were without prejudice and all parties were advised that a final formal decision was only taken when all the facts were before him and his Committee through the normal planning application process.
2.4 Councillor Davis wished to declare that in his capacity as Cabinet Member he knew a number of the directors of planning consultancy companies in Westminster. The planning consultancy companies were representing the applicants on a number of items on the current agenda, including DP9, Gerald Eve, Belgrave, Rolfe Judd and Four Communications.
2.5 Councillor Davis then made the following further declarations as they related to the specific applications on the agenda:
Item 1 - That he is of the Jewish faith but is not religious and therefore does not comply with the rules that govern an Eruv. He is a member of a synagogue but it is located outside of the proposed Eruv. He knows many of the objectors and supporters that have made representations on the application as well as the directors of Four Communications.
Item 2 - He has had meetings with the applicants and knows directors of Four Communications.
Item 3 - He has had meetings with the applicants and knows the directors of Gerald Eve.
Item 4 - A previous scheme had been considered by the committee. He knows the directors of Gerald Eve and the architects and had meetings with the applicants.
Item 5 - This was an amending application and the original application had been considered by the committee. He had met and knows the owners of the site.
Item 6 - The principal application had been considered by the committee and this was an amending application. He knows the applicants and the directors of Gerald Eve as well as some of the objectors to the application.
Item 7 - He knows the applicants and has received hospitality from them. He also knows the architects and had received a tour of the premises for different purposes.
Item 8 - He knows the applicants, proposed operator and the agent in Daniel Rinsler. He had had meetings with the applicant about Albemarle Street generally.
Item 9 - The principal application to alter the hotel had been granted by the committee previously. He had had several meetings with the applicants and being on a site visit about general works at the hotel. He had met and got to know the applicants and had received hospitality from them some years ago.
Item 10 - The application had been to committee previously. He knows the applicants, knows some of their consultants, the architect architects and the artist that created the art on the building.
Item 11 - The application had been considered by the committee previously. He knows the directors of Four Communications, Shaftesbury and Rolfe Judd.
Item 12 -He had held meetings with the applicant and knows the directors of DP9.
Item 13 - The site is located in his Ward. He has had meetings with the applicants and knows Robert Winkley, the agent, who used to work for the City Council.
Item 14 - The site is located in his Ward, the principal application for the site had been considered by the committee previously and he has met the applicants through earlier schemes.
2.6 Councillor Tim Mitchell declared that any Members of the Majority Party who had or would make representations in respect of the applications on the agenda were his friends. He also advised that in his capacity as a Councillor for St James’s Ward, and as Cabinet Member for Finance responsible for the City Council’s property portfolio, he regularly met with members of the planning and property industry as well as residents’ associations and amenity groups. He also knew planning consultancy companies that were representing the applicants on a number of items on the current agenda, including, Four Communications, Belgrave, DP9, Gerald Eve, CBRE, Savills and Rolfe Judd.
2.7 Councillor Mitchell then made the following further declarations as they related to the specific applications on the agenda. In respect of item 3 he declared that the site is located in his Ward. He had received a presentation from the applicants on this scheme and has received hospitality from them previously. In respect of items 6, 7, 9, 10 & 11 he declared that applications for these sites had been considered by the committee previously which he had sat on. With regard to item 11, he declared that he knows the directors and managers of Shaftesbury.
2.8 Councillor Susie Burbridge declared that any Members of the Majority Party and Minority Party who had or would make representations on the applications on the agenda were her friends. She advised that she was Deputy Cabinet Member for Housing, Business and Economic Regeneration. She further advised that that she does meet architects and developers from time to time but had not seen or spoken to any in relation to the applications on the agenda. With regards to the specific items on the agenda she declared in respect of items 4, 5, 7, 10, and 11 that she had sat on the committee when it had considered applications for these sites previously. In respect of item 5 she further declared that she sat on the Licensing Sub-Committee that had reviewed the licence for a bar on Chiltern Street that shared the same operator as the hotel. With regards to item 12 she declared that she had recently placed a deposit to buy a Tesla car.
Having noted that this was the chairman’s last planning meeting having sat on such committees for 17 years she expressed praise and thanks for his service stating that she had learnt a great deal from him.
2.9 Councillor David Boothroyd read out the following declaration:
I am Head of Research and Psephology for Thorncliffe, whose clients are companies applying for planning permission from various local authorities. No current clients are in Westminster; if there were I would be precluded from working on them under the company’s code of conduct.
Some Thorncliffe clients have engaged planning consultants who are also representing the applicants tonight: DP9 on items 2 and 12, Gerald Eve on items 3, 4 and 6, CBRE on item 5, Savills on item 9, Bidwells on item 10, Rolfe Judd Planning on items 11 and 13. However I do not deal directly with clients or other members of project teams, and planning consultants are not themselves clients.
On item 1, six of the poles are proposed for sites in my ward. Ward councillors were contacted by Rabbi Binstock of St John’s Wood Synagogue, on behalf of the applicant, last year. Cllr Papya Qureshi, who I understand intends to make a representation, is a friend.
On item 3 there is a reference in the blue representations to a letter from Sir Terence English which I could not find; in case it is relevant, I should note that Sir Terence English was Master of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge when I was a student there in 1993-94.
On item 6, one of the objectors is managing director of the Shaw Corporation who are current clients of Thorncliffe in respect of a scheme in Lambeth.
I was a member of previous committees deciding applications on the sites of items 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, and 11.
2.10 Councillor Daniel Astaire declared in respect of item 1 that he is a member of the St John’s Wood Synagogue and will be the Cabinet Member with responsibility for planning in due course.