development control

Which Southend councillor turned up 3 hrs late to planning committee?

cllr davies on holiday

On Wednesday, the Development Control Committee (Planning committee, to you and me -Ed) met as it always does, at 2 p.m. in the afternoon, to decide on the planning applications before it.

Well, most of it did. One of the councillors sitting on the committee was a little late. Nearly three hours late, in fact. Which councillor could this have been?

Surely it couldn’t have been the councillor who missed the council’s budget-setting meeting, because he was gallivanting off on holiday? The councillor who has only just been appointed to the Development Control committee, replacing the parliamentary candidate that his party group kicked out? The councillor who, if rumour is to be believed, fancies himself as his party’s next leader in Southend?

You might very well think so, but I couldn’t possibly comment

Working for Blenheim Park: an update on Harridge Road

harridge road storage container

Two weeks ago I blogged about a planning issue in Blenheim Park ward, surrounding a large storage container in front of a house in Harridge Road. The container had no planning permission, and was something of an eyesore in the local area.

So I wrote to the council, enquiring about the possibility of a Planning Enforcement Order to remove the offending installation, and requesting that such a solution be looked into. Earlier in the week I received this response:

Dear Mr Dent

Thank you for your recent email in this matter.

It is correct that the fact the Council owns this property does not necessarily preclude the service of an Enforcement Notice under Section 172 of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended). Under the relevant legislation, Notices would have to be served on all those having an interest in the land i.e. the tenant and any other occupiers, South Essex Homes and the Borough Council itself. In order to serve such a Notice, authorisation would first need to be obtained from the Council’s Development Control Committee.

However, SEH have agreed to deal with the matter as it is a Council tenant who is responsible for the breach of planning control and this is deemed the most appropriate route to tackle the issue.

I trust this information clarifies the position.

Kind regards

Neil Auger

Neil Auger – Planning Enforcement Officer – Southend-on-Sea Borough Council

A collaborative solution is certainly a preferable one, provided it is effective. I hope that South Essex Homes will manage to resolve the issue quickly and without further ill-feeling — but I do note that when I was out campaigning in Blenheim Park at the weekend, the storage container was still in place.

I will be keeping an eye on the situation.

Working for Blenheim Park: the Harridge Road storage container

harridge road storage container

Earlier in the week the Southend Echo ran a story about a storage container outside a house on Harridge Road. It peaked my interest in particular because I spent last Sunday leafleting Harridge Road and the surrounding area. Yes, it is part of Blenheim Park ward, where I am standing for election in May.

According to the Echo:

A huge container which has blighted a Leigh street for two years cannot be removed by Southend Council because it on housing association land.

The 20ft-wide, green, metal container, in the front garden of the house in Harridge Road, is half the length of the semi-detached property and the top is the same height as the first floor.

The article goes on to say:

Graham Longley, ward councillor, said the council had been aware of the problem for some time but, as the property belonged to South Essex Homes, responsibility rested with the housing association.

Which is…odd. You see, planning law applies to all land, regardless of who owns it. Planning law is one of the few areas which local government still retains broad control. So the idea that the council can’t do anything because the land belongs to South Essex Homes doesn’t quite ring true to me.

If the container is in breach of planning regulations — which it very much sounds like it is — then it is for the council’s Development Control Committee to consider the matter and decide whether to issue a planning enforcement order.

So, keen to help where I can, and since that the current trio of councillors don’t seem to be doing much at all (In the case of UKIP’s Floyd Waterworth, perhaps not surprising -Ed), I’ve emailed the planning department to ask for the solution to be looked into and pursued if possible.  Perhaps it won’t come to anything, or perhaps it will. It could be that my understanding of the planning issues is at fault. But I’m determined that Blenheim Park deserves a little more activity from its representatives, and if I can do something to improve the ward then I don’t see that I should have to wait until after the election.

Neighbour problems? Don’t bother going to your UKIP councillor!

floyd waterworth shrug
Planning law is important. (Note: important, not necessarily exciting -Ed). It’s one of those areas that local government still retains the lion’s share of control over, and where residents can actually have a say over the development of their community.

I would suggest that even UKIP wouldn’t deny its importance. They have set themselves the task of defending the greenbelt from development, which as UKIP aims go is fairly reasonable. Presumably the way they mean to do this is via planning law.

But to listen to UKIP Parliamentary candidate for Rochford & Southend East, and councillor for Blenheim Park ward, Floyd Waterworth you would think that UKIP were opposed to the enforcement of planning law altogether. Not to mention, he’s incredibly rude about the very voters whose favour his position is dependent on.

I wonder what voters would make of that…

Read on…