May 21 2013 Latest news:
Ramzy Alwakeel, Reporter
Monday, July 2, 2012
Rainham residents say they have no confidence in Havering Council’s planning department after its officers ignored their concerns about a new block of flats and gave the application a second chance to be passed – because of an office blunder.
After being turned down on appeal by a government inspector in 2010, controversial plans for a three-storey block of flats overlooking bungalows in Warwick Road were revised and put before the planning committee in February this year, where they were again rejected by eight votes to two.
But neighbours were horrified when the council wrote to them the following week saying the decision wasn’t valid as “final revised plans” had accidentally been left out of the application.
And horror turned to disbelief when the application was again tabled at the July meeting with officers’ recommendation for approval – even though the “final revised plans” are virtually identical to the original ones.
“We’ve got no confidence that the planning department cares at all about the residents. We felt like they didn’t listen to our objections,” said neighbour Julia Williams, 54.
“The officer wasn’t interested in how this would be detrimental to our lives, or how the traffic and parking problems would be greatly exacerbated. What was the point in writing in our objections when they were not going to be considered?” she added.
“Part of the building is only a metre away from the boundary to my next door neighbour’s bungalow. They’re going to be able to sit in their lounges and see most of our gardens – and the parking is round the back, so that’s eight cars’ worth of fumes in our garden.”
A majority of the street’s residents have signed a petition calling on Havering’s legal department to explain the actions of the planning department. Rainham and Wennington councillor David Durant handed the petition to the Mayor at the last full council meeting.
Deputy council leader Steven Kelly said: “We are very sorry for the mix up which meant early plans were tabled at the meeting. After we discovered the mistake we decided that the committee needed to review the final version to be able to make an informed decision.
“The plans will be reviewed at a future committee and we will make sure that we notify neighbouring properties.”
Cllr Kelly added the new plans included the movement of a door on the internal floor plan.
When asked whether the scale of the changes merited a five-month gap and resubmission to the planning committee, a council spokesman said the committee could not take a legitimate decision without the final plans, however small the alterations.