With the council’s planning department doing nothing to deter greedy developers from buying up suburban family houses and develping them, one-by-one into blocks of flats across the borough, some groups of residents are looking at finding ways to fight back to better defend the fabric of the neighbourhoods.
HADRA is the Hartley and District Residents Association. They are carrying out a survey of their members, residents and others, and next week will be holding a committee meeting where one item on the agenda is what additional action they can take to gain a more positive outcome with developer-led planning applications.
“We’re not talking about the the odd extension or loft conversion here – we’re more concerned with family homes which are converted into blocks of nine-or-so flats. We all know roads in our area where this is taking place, so what can we do?” HADRA has said on its social media this week.
“Just like you, we too find the constant stream of planning decisions being made against the wishes of our ommunity a constant frustration. Lodging comments against the application and speaking at the planning meeting seem to gain very little traction and the views of our local residents seem to just get ignored.”
This is a borough-wide phenomenon, with what one councillor on the planning committee has described as a “Nine-nine-nine emergency”: developers who build or convert a site for nine or fewer units have no obligation to include any “affordable” homes in their planning application. Streets have seen individual developers submitting planning applications for three or four individual houses, each turned into blocks of flats, without a single affordable home.
And existing residents have to deal with a planning system where the odds are stacked against them. Developers who have their applications refused can always appeal against the council decision, or simply return a few months later with a moderately revised scheme.
Objectors to any unsuitable, money-grubbing scheme have no such rights of appeal, as the recent case in Waddon, where the developer seemed to have a helping hand from the council’s own planning department and won a ruling from the planning inspectorate.
HADRA, at least, are actively seeking ways to fight back: “If you have your own ideas on additional (legal!) action HADRA should consider taking when it comes to opposing these types of planning applications which adversely impact our neighbourhoods, we’d like to hear your thoughts.”
To contact HADRA, email firstname.lastname@example.org
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