Subject:Re: 26th April Planning Committee – for 3 sites at Clewers Hill, Waltham Chase
Dear Simon Finch
Is this another ploy by WCC to advantage the applicant over the Objectors? (See para 4th from bottom re registration of speakers)
If I sound arch, it is with good reason.
The history of these sites is one long list of inefficient and inadequate action from WCC.
I would not wish to bore you, but from 2008 neighbours complained to Enforcement that B2 industry was taking place at B1 sites.
Enforcement continually reported back that they saw no breaches taking place. They obviously wore blind folds or gave long advance notice of their site visits.
But neighbours did not give up.
In 2010 Enforcement suddenly did a volt face and admitted that there was no planning permission at all (not even for B1) at one of the 2 sites where the B2 was taking place, so they were advising the proprietors to apply for LDC’s
It took ages because the legal officers said these applications were so complicated; in truth the applicants certainly tried to make it as complicated and confusing as possible, using all sorts of ploys including name changes of buildings, mixing up the information on the 2 applications, submitting and withdrawing evidence, outright falsehoods, pretending a previous company at the site had been heavy industry when it had only been an IT company, you name it they did it. Poor WCC officers – they could not keep pace!
However eventually Howard Bone’s team came up with a good result as far as the neighbours were concerned. One LDC was refused outright, and one was only granted for part of the site and CRUCIALLY that was only for B1 use.
Success, or was it?
No, the applicant just kept right on with B2 use at BOTH sites as if nothing had happened.
Neighbours complained , took photos, kept logs and emailed them to Enforcement. Enforcement lost the files!
Eventually after several unanswered emails from our City Councillor Roger Huxstep, Legal officer Fiona Sutherland and Senior Planning Officer Neil March investigated and decided that, well you’ve guessed it, B2 industry WAS taking place illegally at both sites after all.
So the applicant has now put in 2 retrospective applications and 1 new application for B2 heavy industrial use.
EVERY house in the vicinity lodged Objections to each application, and so has the Parish Council.
Nevertheless case officer Simon Avery has sided with the applicant and he says, they are just ‘regularising’ their illegal activities.
Thats all right then. If you breach Planning Permissions and Conditions, just put in an application to regularise your breaches and WCC will see you all right.
WCC have had to send off nearly 400 letters to 30 or so objectors though, because first they made a mistake over the date of the hearing, then they cancelled it, then they advised a time of the new hearing but with no date, and finally at the fourth go, they got all the information into one letter! Wow only four tries, all at ratepayers’ expense.
Objectors get 1 x 3 minute speech per application, not very long at all, but Simon Avery thought he would give them even less time by suggesting that they can show their photos one at a time, during their 3 minutes, spending time having to ask him, and only him, to move on manually from each photograph to the next.
Objectors are told to register their speakers and photos by Monday 23rd April, for the hearing on 26th April, with the Public Speaking Co-ordinator Fiona Chaffers, but on trying to do this on 21st April, they are told she is not back in her office until Wednesday 25th April, which will be OUT of TIME.
Finally we are told that according to the government’s new Localism policy directive, the National Planning Policy Framework, and Neighbour hood Plans, neighbourhoods have the right to decide on this kind of issue. Shedfield Parish is producing its Village Design Statement and Parish Plan now, which will inform their Neighbourhood Plan, and in that, B1 industry will be stongly encouraged in this rural parish, but B2 is not wanted at all. Simon Avery has been informed of this, but has chosen not to heed it in his reccomendation.
WCC Planning just seems to be off the beat in every respect.