Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Barnet Council Planning Rules - One rule for the rich & powerful, another for the rest of us

There is a rather interesting article on the front page of the Council website. It appears that a Mrs Anne Clark is being ordered to knock down an "illegal extension" - -  The Council press release says the following -

A couple who built a two storey extension at the rear of their house without planning permission have been ordered to knock it down. 
Ann Clark was prosecuted by Barnet Council after it emerged she had failed to demolish her extension as required by an enforcement notice.

The hearing at Willesden Magistrates Court heard that Mrs Clark and her husband built the two-storey rear extension including a mansard roof to create a third story at their property on Park Road, Barnet,  in 2010  without seeking planning permission from the council.

The extension was subdivided into flats and rented out by the couple.

In 2011 Barnet Council’s planning enforcement team ordered the couple to demolish the extension citing it constituted an ‘incongruous and overbearing addition in stark contrast to the original house.’

Mrs Clark made an appeal against the council’s enforcement notice to the Planning Inspectorate but her appeal was dismissed in October 2011. However the couple carried on renting out the property.
The council pursued prosecution and on 26 July 2013 Mrs Clark pleaded guilty to failing to comply with the planning enforcement notice which required the extension to be demolished. Mrs Clark was fined £14,000 and ordered to pay the council’s costs. In her defence Mrs Clark stated she had been badly advised by their original architects, who failed to tell her that planning permission was required. She also stated they would make a significant loss from demolishing the extension, even after taking into account the rental income they had gained.

The magistrates found that Mrs Clark had three to four years in which to apply for planning permission, and over two years to comply with the enforcement notice. No plans had been submitted, and she continued to benefit from the rental income from the illegal development. 

They also found that the extension was built for gain with the enlargement of the first floor flat and the addition of a second floor flat. The financial loss of demolition was a risk that she took when the extension was built. It was her responsibility to ensure that it complied with the law. They concluded there was a complete disregard of the enforcement notice, as Mrs Clark knew of the enforcement notice in January 2011 yet proceeded to rent out the flats and benefit from an increased property value and rental income.

Councillor Joanna Tambourides, Cabinet Member for Planning, said: “This was a high fine for a planning enforcement case which reflects its seriousness.

Mr and Mrs Clark have paid a heavy price for failing to abide by the rules, but planning regulations are there for a reason.
“I hope this serves as a warning to anyone undertaking building work that they need to check first if planning permission is required.”

Now I'm all for planning rules being followed, but it seems that in the London Borough of Barnet, we have one law for the rich & poweful and another for poor plebs like Mrs Clark. Those of us who live in Mill Hill will know that there is a rather wealthy local landowner who has built a petting zoo in the green belt / conservation area without planning permission. Despite repeated visits from the Council, nothing has been done to get him to comply with the law and the zoo still keeps welcoming the public for business. It strikes me as odd that the zoo has been around far longer than Mrs Clarks extension, but the owner has not been subject to the same treatment. Before anyone starts saying that they like the petting zoo or the waffle cafe and that they are good for Mill Hill, I don't necessarily disagree. I just think that the law should be enforced and the rules followed for everyone. If the zoo is good for the locality, then the case should be made and the council should ensure that it conforms to the rules.

I also note with interest that the justification for the enforcement action was as follows ‘incongruous and overbearing addition in stark contrast to the original house.’
clearly wheover took this decision was not around when the plans for the new building on the site of the Hartley Hall were passed. A huge concrete monstrosity is taking shape, towering above the rather elegant St Michael and all Angels church and dominating the skyline in Mill Hill Broadway. Clearly a developer with deep pockets will be making a packet from the site. Why is it that such ugly blots on the landscape are allowed when a big developer is involved, but when a local resident wants to put a relatively minor extension on their property, they are refused and dragged through the courts. 

I quite liked Mill Hill the way it was before the developers cut loose. I like the fields and the open green belt spaces. I liked the old Church Hall on the site of the new monstrosity. I believe that developments should be sympathetic to the area. Developers are in it to make a quick buck. They don't care about the consequences of their plans, they just move on to the next project. That is why we elect a council and why we expect councillors to enforce the rules. They are the one protection we have. Sadly I think they are failing us.  


LBB said...


I was with you all the way up to the comments about Hartley Hall. The church itself sold off this part of the land and believe me they are benefitting greatly from the project on the corner. Hartley Hall itself is being rebuilt and will be much better than it was - following many complaints from parishioners and users of the hall apparently. Not to mention the money they got in the first place :o)

SURELY you cannot prefer the awful eyesore that was the derelict petrol station and some grotty garages overrun with rodents, to what is going to be a rather nice (IMHO) modern tasteful development. Admittedly it will stand out somewhat from it's current surroundings but when the NHS site oppoiste is redeveloped in the future, I think the area around this junction will look a lot nicer than it does now.

El Velcro said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
El Velcro said...

Rog, having seen photographs of the 2-3 storey building built on the side of their house, I can assure you it WAS incongruous and extremely ugly. They only have themselves to blame and I back Barnet on this 100%. As far as the 'Petting Zoo' goes, surely whoever is responsible for dealing with this can be shaken up from within the council? Complain along with the neighbours who have done so before. That should get someones goat.
Now, on to the previous response. I noticed it was made by LBB. Why, oh why have they not responded to your mention of the petting zoo? LBB has a responsibility to its tenants to stop these kind of things from developing into an uncontrollable, runaway train of a situation. Come on LBB, do something about it if, as Rog says, it's a case of 'one rule for the rich' etc. Or are you going to do nothing, AGAIN?