Planning Enforcement in Heston & Cranford

On 24 July 2007, Borough Council decided to remove for one year the Planning Enforcement decisions from the Heston & Cranford Area Committee.  The background to this is here, here and here.

More recently, there was a decision taken by this Area Committee that has already caught the attention of Councillors, member of the public and the press.  See here and here.

This item regarding a property Victoria Gardens is up there with some of the other decisions made by this Area Committee that have caused concern in the past.  Amongst the correct decisions taken by the previous administration following the report from the Local Government Ombudsman was the introduction of recorded votes for all planning matters.  At least it is now possible for the likes of Councillors Vaught, Mann & Elizabeth Hughes to disassociate themselves from such odd decisions.

The bottom line issue here is whether this breach is immune from enforcement action (if a breach goes undetected for four years, it is then immune from enforcement action).

Section 4.2 of the report presented to the Area Committee on 23 September said:

“The aerial photographs taken in May 2007 show that the second rear extension had not been built at that time. It is not, therefore, immune from enforcement action.”

For Councillors to go against an aerial photograph is, as far as I am aware, unprecedented and deeply concerning.  On face value, it is possibily the most bizarre planning enforcement decision I have known since being elected in 2002.

My questions to Councillor Ruth Cadbury, who has Lead Member Responsibility for Planning amongst her portfolio, are the following:

  1. Do you share my concerns about this decision?
  2. Have you ever known an aerial photograph be disregarded this way?
  3. Do you intend to do anything about it or take the view that this is a matter for the Area Committee alone?
  4. What do you believe could/should be done to avoid such a decision from happening again?

My question to Councillors Bath, Rajawat, Gill, Gopal Dhillon & Kaur (who voted to overturn the officer recommendation to take enforcement action) aswell as Councillors John Chatt and Poonam Dhillon (who abstained) is simply why did any factor they considered override the comments in section 4.2 of the report?  Councillor Sohan Sangha also abstained but in fairness to him, he appears to abstain on everything in his capacity as Chair.

I very much hope that all of the Councillors I have mentioned face the music and provide very clear explanations to the Press and anyone else who may ask for their rationale on the night.

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