Spineless council backs developers again
09/02/2018 11:20:00.......Posted by Tim Pollard
Last night I represented residents in Gainsborough Drive before the planning committee - and as is normal these days the Labour-run committee backed the developers rather than the residents.
The site is a back garden development which was refused by the council when under Conservative control in 2013, but the developer then got permission on appeal. When they came to build it, they built in the wrong place, to the wrong height, the wrong width, on a raised plinth instead of at ground level and with a sloping ramp to get access to the front door. Once it became clear that they were building much more than they had permission for, local residents contacted myself and the council enforcement team, who told the builder to stop and seek permission for what he was actually building. They repeatedly ignored this and the council did not compel them to, so in the end they completed the building at their own risk.
They then applied for permission for what they had built, which was refused by the council. They went to appeal and lost.
In his refusal of the appeal the Inspector particularly commented that removing the ramp “would still leave it sitting on what is in effect a raised plinth, with a door threshold level that would be incompatible with those of No1 to 7. I am not persuaded that the imposition of a planning condition requiring the ramp's removal would provide an acceptable alternative."
So the developer made a few changes, namely moving the front door so as to be able to delete the ramp and create a 1m space in front of the pavement in which they propose some planting to try to disguise the odd proportions of the raised building they are left with.
Council officers decided that was fine, saying ‘The proposed removal of the existing raised ramp, balustrade and the alteration to the location of the front door will help alleviate the inspector’s concerns.’
I don’t think so. With the door moved, and the ramp removed, we have an oddly proportioned building with its windows at the wrong height. The developer has not very successfully tried to disguise that with planting, but the reality is that the plants will struggle to survive in the few inches of space they have between the wall and the pavement. It will look horrible.
In his conclusion the 2016 Inspector said “I have found that the appeal development has an unacceptable appearance. The nature of the harm is such that I consider it could not be addressed by my imposition of reasonable planning conditions. The appeal is therefore dismissed.”
The Inspector was effectively saying that he does not believe there is anything the developer can do to make the building acceptable.
Clause 7.9 of the council report says ‘The inspector and officers are minded that reverting to the 2012 consent would involve the demolition of the house.’
And that’s exactly what should have happened to prevent the council becoming laughing stock amongst developers.
But no, the Labour controlled committee decided by 3 votes to two (breaking along party lines) that although the resulting building is wrong on virtually every level, it can stay, and they granted it permission. The message this sends to developers is quite clear. Build what you like in Croydon, our spineless council won't stop you.