Lack of proper enforcement undermines Planning Committee decisions, says councillor

A councillor has questioned the point of Planning Committee decisions after the size of an extension to a house in her ward was bigger than the approved designs.

Conservative councillor Dawn Barnett, who represents Hangleton and Knoll ward, said that she was angry that decking built as part of a house extension was “too deep” – and that nothing will be done about it.

Plans to extend the property – a bungalow in St Helen’s Drive in Hove – were approved by Brighton and Hove City Council Planning Committee in August last year.

The application was for a single-storey side and rear extension, roof alterations including a rear dormer window and decking at the back.

In an email exchange with the planning department, an official confirmed to Councillor Barnett that the decking area built so far was 20cm deeper and slightly higher than stated in the plans.

The planning official said that there was a “technical breach of planning control” but it was “not sufficient to justify enforcement action”.

Councillor Barnett said: “It’s a monstrosity now. They were told they could have decking out the back. Now they’ve laid a long piece of concrete halfway down the garden and they’ve got to put something on top of the concrete.

“The people next door have been told a privacy screen is going up but they don’t want that.

“When Hangleton Valley was built it was all open plan. They weren’t allowed big high fences. St Helen’s Drive was all individual bungalows and people could look straight across the Downs. This will take up all the view from either side.

“Planning gave them one thing. Why are they allowed to change it? It’s not as it should be but they’re going to leave it.

“It’s opening the floodgates – and it’s not the first time. It needs to be dealt with. They should be told that’s not what the plans were. Sorry, move it.

“Otherwise, what’s the point of a Planning Committee? What’s the point of putting plans in? They might as well say I’m going to put that in my garden. It’s not going to make a difference to you. I can do what I like.”

Councillor Barnett, who is a member of the Planning Committee, did not take part in the debate last year because she had already objected to the planning application.

Work is still under way on the building and the owner’s agent, architect Courtney Darby, declined to comment on Councillor Barnett’s concerns.

Councillor Nick Lewry objected to the project when he addressed the Planning Committee last year.

He said that the applicant had caused stress to neighbours by submitting four applications in the space of a year.

Councillor Lewry said that people had contacted him in tears raising their concerns about the proposals.

He said: “This area of Hangleton is bungalow land. When the bungalows of St Helen’s Drive were originally designed, the layout and spacing of the buildings was carefully planned to ensure they would be in keeping with the landscape.

“This large building’s disruptive design is a marked departure from the size of other bungalows in the area.”

  1. Sd Reply

    I’m afraid the Planning part of the Council is a disgrace and needs a proper review to discover why they are so incompetent. Then, when we know why (systems failure, lack of staff training, uncaring individuals) steps need to be made to right their wrongs.

  2. Hovelassies Reply

    The Planning department wilfully and knowingly turn a blind eye to major transgressions of planning permission, yet on the other hand have an officious jobsworth send enforcement letters to a family for raising the height of their fence to protect their children form antisocial behaviour on the street. The lack of enforcement of blatant transgressions by hostels in Central Hove that have gone on for years in the full knowledge of the Planning department smacks of an unprincipled and inept administration. Councillors have raised concerns for years – ignored. Planning is a law unto themselves with no accountability that has different rules for different people in this city. Shameful.

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