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DAMESATHOME@YAHOO.CO.UK
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Wednesday, 18 February 2015

IS THE PLANNING COMMITTEE COMING GOOD-AT LAST?

Last night the Planning Committee (by unanimous vote) threw out plans recommended by Mr Bore's planning officers for a hideous conversion of a shop to residential use in the Hillgate Street Conservation Area. 
EFFECTIVE MACKOVER 


Eleven objections were published on the Council website and two angry residents presented at the meeting claiming the proposal was completely out of character with the street scape, driving a coach horses through Conservation Area rules. 

A consultant from Savils, representing the owner, was clearly shaken by all of this and when giving defence evidence, let the cat out of the bag. 
The rattled and confused man said "we have been talking to Officers at the Town Hall for the last year as part of the pre application procedure and made five different proposals. We presented what Officers told us to present". 
So there we have it......

Officers play at being God with developers and then recommend their own work to the Planning Committee! 
In the bad old days the Councillors did not even bother to read the papers and make site visits. 
They just rubber stamped the Officers' recommendation.

But not last night. Committee Chairman, Cllr Sam Mackover, had made his own site visit and was well prepared. 
Cllr Robert Atkinson (not known for having the wool pulled over his eyes) was forthright. 
Cllr Eve Allison Conservative (a new member for North Kensington) was learning fast and quickly got a grip. 
Cllr David Nicholls Conservative nailed two fatal flaws. 
And Cllr Robert Freeman Conservative (and a property lawyer himself) was his usual forensic self and letting nothing pass, in his always friendly and courteous manner. Devastating stuff

And then to cap it all, the Councillors threw out a proposal from the Victoria and Albert Museum to erect a neon sign on the front of the building.... also recommended by Officers. The V&A Curator who presented the case did not even know what time the sign would be switched on and turned off. 
Talk about a slack Alice planning system! 
But Cllr Mackover and his team were having none of it. Congratulations to Cllr Mackover!

10 comments:

  1. Grateful Neighbour18 February 2015 at 15:00

    Planning at its best. The situation here is a new owner who saw the opportunity to buy up a shop next door on the cheap and add some low cost square feet to his house - creating value and a huge profit when he sells up next year to return to America. Nothing wrong with a bit of speculation, but in a Conservation Area it is not enough to create a lean to shed and sell on at short notice. You need to rebuild to a required standard.

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  2. Another Neighbour18 February 2015 at 15:02

    The guy bought a site. The reality is that he has to knock down the shop that he bought and rebuild a sympathetic addition to his house. He needs a good architect. And should be getting better advice from complacent Savils.

    Cheapskate

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  3. So the recent spectacular binning of the Candy and Riblatt applications wasn't just a flash in the pan! At last, we have a planning committee willing to represent residents' interests rather than those of the developers and officers. Crack open the Bolly chaps!

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  4. Retired Chief Executive18 February 2015 at 15:15

    This is an instructive story about the abuse of power. A Leadership team (the current watch is Cllr Coleridge, Cabinet Member for Planning, and Mr Bore, DIrector of Planning) who have tolerated a power structure that went badly astray.

    When managers abdicate management over young and impressionable Officers an abuse of power quickly arises. "Nudge, nudge we know what works!. Do what we say and it will get rubber stamped". Exercising that kind of power makes us all feel big and important. And when the Councillors fail to exercise authority over the Executive, because of laziness and stupidity or just "puffing", then democracy is well and truly screwed.

    Developers, who are truly successful entrepreneurs, quickly spot the opportunity and take advantage of the system.

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    Replies
    1. What we have seen over the last decade is the slow decline of morality and standards in Hornton Street resulting from the Cockell leadership of the Royal Borough. Hopefully things are changing. A little more vigour from Cllr Coleridge in the Planning Department would be most welcome.

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    2. The Officers in the Planning Department at Hornton Street are mostly young and very inexperienced. They will be devastated and confused by the recent knock backs (big and small) in Planning Committee. These guys need to be pumped up again and managed properly. Mr Bore's replacement is required urgently

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  5. Mr Bore's successor is probably the most important staff appointment facing Hornton Street at this time. I hope it is receiving the personal attention of Cllr Paget-Brown. More than a box ticker is required. A person of extraordinary ability is required to find a new working relationship with Councillors and to re motivate and lead staff in a different way than previously. These skills are not easily found.

    Paget-Brown cannot afford another mistake. And Cllr Coleridge needs to start discharging some of his more onerous responsibilities as the planning honhco in the Cabinet

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  6. The style of Cllr Mackover's conduct as Chairman of the meeting was very inclusive. And not at all pushy and bombastic with his own views. Unlike Cllr Warwick, the small man who loves his planning Chairman stage, when he invariably puffs up and tells everyone how they should vote and think. And not one ounce of resident feeling in his bones.

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    Replies
    1. Cllr Ahern has long called for Borough planning to be more resident friendly and less beholden to developers. Maybe he has been coaching Cllr Mackover

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  7. If there is collusion between officers and developers why has neither Holcroft or Paget Brown done anything about it?

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