Councillors' Anger Over Accusations of Planning Bias
After house extension in Hanwell conservation area approved
Two Ealing Councillors who have been granted planning permission to extend their seven bedroom house in a conservation area say accusations of bias are completely unfounded.
Councillors Ray and Lauren Wall - who are also planning committee members - have been given the go-ahead to build a double height extension to their property on Manor Court Road which is part of the Golden Manor Conservation Area.
Cllr Wall's house
Neighbours objected to the scheme and Hanwell Village Green Conservation Area Residents' Association said it amounted to overdevelopment in a conservation area.
Previous applications for single side and rear extensions have been approved and last week Ealing planning committee voted in favour 10/3 to the Wall's latest plans.
Liberal Democrat Councillor, Jon Ball, was one of the three who voted against the plans - he said flat roofed extensions are not found in the area and believed this was a dangerous precedent.
However, Councillor Lauren Wall says Councillor Ball is wrong, ''The report to planning committee members, which Cllr Ball should have read, states, ‘two storey flat roofs are not uncharacteristic of this conservation area with original and modified examples to late Victorian and Edwardian properties evident on Manor Court Road, Church Road and Campbell Road.’
''Unfortunately, Cllr Ball did not attend the site visit with the other planning committee members either. If he had he would have had a chance to confirm the report’s advice that precedents already exist.''
There were accusations that the two Councillors may have been given an unfair advantage because of their positions on the planning committee, but Councillor Wall says the opposite is the case:
'' Ealing’s current policy is to refer planning applications from councillors to planning committee in the interests of transparency and accountability. This is an extra layer of public scrutiny our applications must meet which most others do not.
''Furthermore, the Statute prohibiting councillors from attending any council meeting in which they have a pecuniary interest also applies and therefore, unlike other applicants, councillors have to forgo their personal right to speak in support of their applications, address objections or even be present at the planning committee hearing.
''This places councillors at a double disadvantage relative to other applicants. As councillors in Ealing both our applications have been subjected to this process and claims of ‘rubber stamping’ are just cynical and completely unfounded.''
Conservative planning spokesperson, Councillor Joanna Dabrowska - who voted against the application - says the Walls had the opportunity to nominate an agent, planning consultant or a representative (even a friend/relative) to speak on their behalf at the planning committee but they chose not to.
Councillor Dabrowska added: '' the applicants have put in three applications in the last 30 months, only two have gone to planning committee. Why wasn't last year's application referred to planning committee? Why didn't Ealing Council's planning department follow their own policy?'
26th May 2016 (updated)