The inspector, Mr Philip Asquith, concluded the hearings on the appeal by the Secretary of State for Defence (Mr Liam Fox, on behalf of Greenwich Hospital Estates) with a (second) visit to the market on Saturday 18th September, after both parties had concluded their closing statements..
Much attention in the two statements focussed on the proposal that the Market’s cobbled courtyard would be used for an alfresco restaurant and bar for the hotel. There was also discussion of the fact that the hotel’s rooftop plant and equipment housing, and the fourth, mansard floor of the hotel, would protrude above the symmetry of Kay’s terraces when viewed e.g., from the heart of the Old Royal Naval College. There was considerable discussion of the absence of a Travel plan or any provision for disabled parking, set-down or pick-up. Counsel for the Borough drew attention to the Appellant’s suggestion that “"I believe that such users may choose to stay at one of the other hotels in the town centre" characterizing it as trying to avoid the Hotel’s responsibilities under the Disability Discrimination Act. There was also dispute over the implications for (possibly two-way) traffic in Greenwich Church Street of skip and other lorries entering or leaving Durnford Street (which would be partly occupied by stalls displaced from the covered market). Councillor Mary O’Mara, the West Greenwich Councillor who presented a petition opposing the application with nearly 1,000 signatures, argued the proposals would “rip the heart out of Greenwich”
The inspector is expected to submit his recommendations in the Autumn to Mr Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government – whose mantra is ‘Localism” and who claims “Local government couldn't find a better champion or a stronger advocate to represent them”. The forthcoming Decentralisation and Localism bill is expected set out a range of proposals for planning and related legislation to ‘devolve greater powers to councils and neighbourhoods’.
It remains to be seen how the Secretary of State will react to an appeal whose closing statement concedes “The Appellant recognises that there has been substantial local opposition to the scheme.”