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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Duguneek added this comment over on another discussion. Thought it was worthy of it's own discussion:

I feel that the Planning system is pitched in favour of the developers and that if local people object or support their proposals, they have to work very hard to have their voice heard. Haringey has a large transient community that rely on those that live here for longer than them, to ensure the area is maintained to a high standard, as well as long-standing residents.

Is the Planning system in need of an overhaul, so that residents are involved truly in decision-making, rather than 'consulted' (which has become a euphemism for 'rubber-stamped')?

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I sort of agree with Graham, but I think we need proper consultations with residents where there are
a. bigger projects and b. issues that have received a lot of complaints from residents, so it's clear something needs to change. HMOs are a good example here.
In the context of HMOs and illegal conversions, it's the planning enforcement system that needs sorted out, not the planning system per se. Too easy for greedy developers to get away with illegal conversions and avoid prosecution for failing to comply with enforcement notices, and too few and weak powers for councils to take pre-emptive action.
True Bushy, but there's also the issue with certificate of lawfulness after 4 years of flying under the radar which goes under planning. This comes under the Housing act though, so is not exactly a local issue. But one someone should lobby to get changed!
I am certainly no expert on this subject and planning documents have a tendancy to make me glaze over but I have been reading via the Civic Trust about The Killian Pretty review of ways in which decisions on planning applications may be made faster and more responsive, published 24 Nov.

The review recommends that nearly 40% of minor non-residential, mainly commercial, planning applications, such as for small scale alterations and extensions, should be taken out of the planning system altogether or subject to a much quicker process, not sure if that should inspire with confidence or not given the flagpoles on Green Lanes thing.

Most importantly for us as residents it also recommends improving the pre-application phase, particularly for major developments, with a much greater focus on getting developers, councils and consultees, including local communities, to sort out key issues that could cause lengthy delays later in the process.

The key bit in the review seems to be Recommendation 11 – That to help improve the effectiveness of community engagement:
• applicants for major developments should discuss with the council at an early point in
pre-application discussions how best to engage with the local community;
• applicants should report the outcomes from the engagement, so that the community and the
authority can easily understand what has been undertaken and how it has influenced the
• Government should ensure that the additional resources for community engagement in
planning identified in the recent Empowerment White Paper are used, in part, to help improve
community engagement in the planning application process; and
• local authorities should be given greater autonomy and flexibility to determine the best
approaches to use in order to notify the public about planning applications, thus allowing
them to decide whether to use local newspapers (or local websites?).

Hardy souls may wish to peruse the executive summary here
Having spent exactly one hour at 3 pm yesterday (Thursday) waiting to get out of Sainsbury Arena car park, I have serious doubts about there being a planning department at all. How could they have given permission for trebling the sales area without ensuring that access and exit could cope beats me. The green on the traffic lights giving access to Green Lanes lasts for exactly 6 seconds which doesn't help.

God knows what would happen if there were a fire at Sainsbury's.

They won't see me again this side of Christmas.
I have given up with Sainsbury, I asked our Stalinist council over a year ago why planning permission was granted. I NOW buy all my produce down Green Lanes and guess what ,have saved a fortune by only getting what is needed.

It certainly looks to me, from the process Haringey Council have adopted for the Ward's Corner planning application (HGY/2008/0303), that the system has become corrupted.

A regeneration benefit, stated in the Council's originating planning brief states "A key objective is to create a place where local people are proud to regard as their town centre."

I was so taken aback by the 5-4 vote, and the way Labour neither asked a substantive questions (see webcast) and voted 'en block', that I had to look at the submitted evidence on the council's planning website. Here are the numbers: 187 'unique letters of objection. 426 signed (with addresses) standardised letters of objection. 81 signed a petition to object. 25 unique letters of support.

In total, 96% of submissions raised an objection.

Labour asked no questions of Paul Smith, at the planning meeting, on behalf of these local people's concerns, their constituents. Why? When the advice from Mr Smith was to grant the application and side with 4% of the evidence!

That's not all. Consider English Heritage, David Lammy MP, and all who also raised concerns. The Tottenham Civic Society put it well
"I am glad to see that the developer acknowledges a debt to Tottenham Civic Society. However, I do not see how incorporating 'lessons learned from the Tottenham High Road conservation Area' translates into demolishing a large part of it. We also do not see how the proposals 'enhance the Page Green Conservation Area'. I believe the developer is paying lip service to these criteria in the hope we will simply accept their statements."

Residents of Haringey need to understand that this process has been corrupted. The original brief stated
"The area is run-down and the buildings on Ward's Corner site in particular, are in need of physical renewal. However, the former Ward's department store building itself is considered to have some architectural merit and any development scheme should reflect and retail bthe architectural features of the store is at all possible."

Retaining Ward's corner came about as a constraint, from community consultation!

And yet when Options A, B1, C1, D, E1 are examined in Grainger's early proposals for the site, NONE entertains the retention of Ward's Department Store. Not one. So why did the council retain Graingers when they couldn't even entertain a single option (of five presented), that met this part of the brief?

If we look at another part of the council's planning brief, it says that a benefit of urban design, needs to be of'human scale'.

The plan passed is 8 storeys high and of a 'Corporate scale' rather than 'human' or resident. What's frightening about the current design, is that it is of such a size, on top of the Victoria line, that Graingers' claim that to build it will be so expensive, it can't house low cost housing. So, its a 'Fait a complis' that on a second dimension the design misses the plannning brief.

Who wants something of this scale? So vaste and high that its expense in design and creation means it is not fit for the purpose of the brief. 96% of sample resident say no. How did 5 Labour councillors get so out of step with the mood, and how misaligned what they have voted for is, with respect the brief it is to address. It seems only to serve the interests of the developer to place something of this scale at this location. In no sense is it a 'Gateway' its a 'baby shopping city'.

In conclusion Duguneek, all the evidence from Ward's Corner that I have seen, shows that local resident's attempts to have a voice with planning get corrupted by the Planning department, and between them and the elected Councillors. The process appears ripe for reform. It is depressing, but I live in hope.
I've just moved from working for Camden planning and most of the replies in this thread are right in one respect, the planning system is loaded in favour of developers (even planners will tell you that). Also, it is not, nor was it ever intended to be, a democratic process. The Ward's Corner application is a case in point. In doesn't really matter how many people dislike it, an objection to an application can only be considered if it is material. A material objection is a bit difficult to grasp but basically it would be an objection to an application the deprived the objector of something (natural light for instance), added to cummulative harm (putting more traffic on the street) or was actually against town and country planning law or important policies of the council or the GLA.

In my work I've seen a number of applications agreed even though the planner disliked the scheme, because law and policy said it had to be. A lot of the work a planner does happens way before the decision is made, by trying to negotiate a better scheme with the developer. If an application that ticks all the legal and policy boxes is refused, the developer has the right to appeal, at no cost, to the Planning Inspectorate and have the refusal overturned, and often get awarded damages.

The only right we have as objectors, is to take the case to judicial review, to try an prove that the decsion was reached in an improper way, was unlawful or ran counter to important policies. Emphasis on important. The major hurdle to this course of action is that we have to pay and, if the case goes in favour of the council, costs can be awarded against us.

On the Killian Pretty review, I think there is quite a lot to worry about in in. The removal of non-residential minor applications would mean that many industrial and retail developments under 1000m2 would NOT need to be given permission. I did some work last week to see what this might mean and in Camden it meant that each year over 600 developments of this type would no longer be subject to a planning decision.
Michael, this is really interesting as well as rather depressing.
As an example of what you're saying: If I decided to take the certificate of lawfulness granted to a landlord who blatantly played on the 4 year rule in a non-conversion area to court on the grounds of this certificate running counter to an important policy, which is to protect this area from complete overcrowding, would I stand a chance, or would I be shot down in flames at great cost do you think?
I think you would be on a hiding to nowhere. If the landlord can prove the development existed in this form for 4 or more years, then the certificate of lawful existing development is almost impossible to refuse. The only route open to you is to try and show that the development has not existed in its current form for over 4 years - that might make Planning investigate further in which case they would hand over the case to planning enforcement and the clock could effectively stop by them issuing a notice.

Wishful thinking?
yes, unfortunately. Grrr...
Thanks for these insights and detail on planning. When accessing files from the council's web site, of community comments, they are either preceded 'support', or 'objection'.

Clearly not 'material objections', but one would expect (from the planning department) for them not to be considered worthy of falling through the cracks of Mr Smith's report, as they don't fit the criteria for a material objection - which I don't think many comments do, even the Civic Society, English Heritage, etc.

I think many who crafterd the many lengthy and detailed comments to Mr Smith for consideration in his report and by the planning committee feel that to be ignored so completely, and in such number, is symptomatic of the need for an'overhaul' in the process so these residents are considered stakeholders, and their objections carry some weight alongside material objections.



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