I received the following comment in the ‘About’ page on my blog on Friday:
“I would be grateful if you could investigate and explain why the planning enforcement service seems to be completely ineffective at present. I believe that you should be putting pressure on to improve the service and regain the reputation it once had. I rarely see any press articles about planning enforcement and the work they are doing so much so that many of the clients I advise feel like they can built what they like without obtaining permission. I note that you don’t appear to have mentioned enforcement on this blog for a considerable period of time.
I hope it doesn’t get to the stage where hounslow is mentioned in the national media in a similar negative way to our neighbours Slough and Ealing regarding these beds in sheds.”
I responded as follows:
“Thank you for your comments. Whilst the problem of resources continues in this area, I think that this area is far less controversial than it was a number of years ago e.g. the enforcement committee that deals with these matters instead of the previous Area Planning Committees has approved all recommendations sent to them.
If you have any examples, I would recommend you send them to one of your ward Councillors or me.”
I then received the following:
“One could argue that the enforcement service is less controversial because officers are choosing to make it that way by putting the more difficult cases to one side and not making the public aware off there success stories. Which is a shame because there are seeming no penalities for not obtaining planning permission in Hounslow. The Council’s failure to get there message out is allowing the dreaded word of mouth advice people recieve from relatives and friends to take hold. Unfortunately the advise people are recieving from relatives is do what you want the Council wont take any action.
If the enforcement committee approves all recommendations is it not time to just give officers delegated powers to issue enforcement notices but retain a members right to call in an item to committee. This works sucessfully in other areas of London where officers have been given full delegated authority and takes out the political element.
Why is there a resource issue in this area when we are in a recession with plenty of planners struggling for work or career opportunities in and around London. Its either a wage issue or they dont like the product being offered to them. Perhaps you could clarify when this resource issue is going to be overcome.
I found your blog after searching planning enforcement in Hounslow and noted that most of the activity seems to be from years ago. It is a shame that this activity has not been continued. Especially when people who put in applications are asked to amend plans to shave 50cm of reasonably sized extensions when their neighbours a few doors done have just gone ahead and built a 10m extension without any seeming punishment.
What is the point in a planning service if it is not enforced effectively?”
I have made this posting for a number of reasons:
- The ‘About’ section is not the correct place;
- The subject matter is very important and I have always felt very strongly about Planning Enforcement;
- No specific examples have been given that make an enquiry or complaint worthwhile;
- I have been critical of the Labour Group many times when it comes to Planning Enforcement but as is typical for me, I will not be critical when I have nothing to back it up. Since the Sustainable Development Enforcement Sub-Committee was created to deal with determining enforcement, I do not think it has rejected Officers advice on one occasion. As history shows, this was always the case when the decisions were with Area Planning Committees;
- To plug this eForm;
This has prompted me to take a look into how many Enforcement Reports have gone to committee regarding properties in Feltham, Bedfont & Hanworth over the past 12 months. There are none on the next agenda.
If anyone ever has any examples of work taking place without planning permission, I urge them to report it. As always, my constituents are welcome to contact me for anything of the sort in Feltham North.
There are related concerns about planning where some Resident Groups have expressed concern. This is worth a position in its own right.