Joost Van Well, LBL Area Manager, told the assembly that the planning enforcement action was not taken against The Greyhound contractors for the demolishment of the pub. Subsequently the contractors were taken to court, lost and were fined. Permission to build the pub had lapsed which meant that planning permission to rebuild the pub with 2 flats upstairs had to be resubmitted.
There is a deed of variation in process between lawyers and needs to be signed by all parties which have an interest in the land. building works cannot take place until this is done.
Joost said that the department are receiving a lot of pressure as the staff are stretched especially regarding enforcement and the resources in terms of visiting sites. There are a lot of outstanding queries in Sydenham about a range of issues and priorities need to be set in regards to enforcement and what can be reasonably tackled and what cannot be as there are approximately 800 outstanding enquiries.
The department has decided to change the System to receive updates regarding changes in people streets. Instead of sending out newsletters which is timely and costly they will be setting up a system whereby you register to receive updates to see if something is happening in your street. This will include site notices on the streets, and fundamental changes into the way the department consult. This has been introduced based on a pilot in Croydon.
· Residents are not optimistic that once the deed of variation is signed by all parties that work will continue and feel that there will continue to be a mishandling of the project by LBL Planning department. There had been attempts by residents to show LBL Planning department that the developer of The Greyhound was not acting lawfully and was overlooked for many months.
· There is a concern from the residents that sites are not regularly visited by LBL officers and are therefore unable to see what the developers are doing first hand, as in the case of The Greyhound who have acted unlawfully and demolished a building that should not have been, and build what they did not have permission to build.
· The residents are concerned that LBL had knowledge that the developers had previously tried to cut corners with LBL projects so shouldn’t have used them again in this instance.
· A resident explained that there are a lot of issues surrounding The Greyhound and the assembly need to think of how they can resolve the situation and what they would like to see on the site. E.g. A public square, restaurant, outside space for residents to use rather than what is currently present.
Cllr Chris Best added a report back will be given on the update of The Greyhound as the issue is still with legal, and there is an expectation from the community that the Planning department will enforce action against the developers to build and complete agreements. Cllr Chris Best went on to add the enforcement issues around satellite dishes, shop fronts, and temporary signs should be actioned.
In response Joost said that with enforcement there is procedure that needs to be taken and the question, ‘what harm has been caused by the development?’ needs to be asked. The powers of enforcement are limited and take a negotiation approach with shop owners to shop fronts.
Consultation on the Statement of Community Involvement
Joost added that there are many other ways for residents to access services for example Sydenham Forum and he will be taking the issue regarding notices back to the office.