Friday, July 10, 2009

Ondine Road House Conversions

Last night when I was talking to residents in Ondine Road, several raised with me their concerns that a number of properties in the road were being converted into three flats. At a Camberwell Community Council Planning meeting about 18 months ago I spoke against such a development and fortunately the planning committee threw out the application on the basis that the proposed room sizes were too small.

Unfortunately the applicants appealed to the Planning Inspectorate and were granted planning permission there. This has set a precedent in the road, and there are now a number of such developments taking place. Residents are rightly concerned that a road of single family houses is being turned into a road of flats and the essential character of the area is being changed.

There is always a tension between the need to make more homes in London and the need to preserve the character of an area. There also comes a point where a road reaches 'saturation point' and the area and amenities cannot take any more people or their cars! Therefore, the fact that a precedent has been set in Ondine Road does not mean that every other application will always succeed. The impact of any proposed development on the character and amenity of an area will always have to be considered.

But this development in Ondine Road does highlight one of the frustrations of being a local councillor. For good reasons an application was refused by elected councillors who know and understand an area well. For unknown reasons an unelected official in Bristol granted the application on appeal. Surely there must be grounds for saying that developments up to a certain level should have no right of appeal - so that there remains proper and accountable local control over the planning process.

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