Bob Neill welcomes Porcupine appeal decision

Following the week-long appeal process which took place in early October, John Woolcock, the Inspector assessing the Porcupine Pub case, published his decision last Tuesday. I am delighted to say that, through the efforts of residents, your local Conservative councillors – Charles Rideout and David Cartwright – and the hard work of the planning team at Bromley Council, Lidl’s appeal to build a store on the Porcupine site has been turned down by the Planning Inspectorate.

I had raised my objections to these proposals from the start, bringing this matter up in an Adjournment Debate in the Commons, in a formal letter of objection in January, and in the proof of evidence I submitted to the Inspector in September (all of which can be found below). Whilst Lidl’s plans included many evident and worrying flaws, one of the most important factors fuelling my discomfort was their disregard and complete oversight of how integral this site, and the Porcupine in general, is to the local community. The strength of opposition to the proposals laid out was made abundantly clear throughout, but none more so than by the overwhelming turnout of residents at the appeal, something I saw for myself when I gave evidence at the Civic Centre.

This has been a long-fought battle, and Tuesday’s decision is a fantastic victory for the whole of Mottingham, as well as local community pubs up and down the country. It shows just what is possible when communities come together in common cause, and a huge amount of credit must go to Liz Keable and the Mottingham Residents’ Associations (MRA), as well as the local councillors, for their work in fighting this unsuitable application. We must now all continue to work together, as a community, to find a way to bring the Porky back into use.

I am pleased to say that, following Tuesday’s decision, both Richard Harwood OBE QC – the barrister who represented Bromley Council through the appeal – and myself have been given awards from Planning 4 Pubs Ltd.