|Ealing Planning Department Under Fire|
Councillor expresses concerns to Council Leader
An Ealing Councillor has called for a public meeting in a bid to highlight problems within the council's planning department.
Councillor Benjamin Dennehy, Hanger Hill, (standing as UKIP representative next election) says he has been inundated with complaints from local residents.
He has written to Ealing's Council Leader, Julian Bell, and the Chief Executive, Martin Smith, urging they take action.
He says: '' I am told that residents constantly feel ignored, marginalised and written off. They feel as if there is some underhanded collusion between the department and developers. Right or wrong, that's a poor place to be in for a government department, isn't it? No business should be happy that this is how they are perceived.''
A series of complaints have been lodged with the department over the handling of various planning applications recently.
In Acton, residents are in dispute over an application to build in the garden of Peacehaven - a locally listed building on Creswick Road. They say flats on Pierrepoint Road and Creswick Court were never notified about the application and claim a petition of 203 names hadn't been included in the officer's report.
Recently in Ealing, Councillors overruled their own officers on an application to extend the house of Labour politician Dr Onkar Sahota.
Campaigners highlighted a number of problems with the planning process, Victor Mishiku (Covenant Movement) was appalled by the procedure, claiming planners 'ruthlessly' tried to push through the application. He has questioned whether the department was 'fit for purpose'
Councillor Dennehy believes these two examples are are just the tip of the iceberg. He says planning is the number one complained about department and is urging the Council Leader to address the concerns urgently.
A council spokesperson said:'' Accusing council officials of corruption is very serious and, despite being invited to do so, Councillor Dennehy has not reported any allegations to the council. If he did, it would of course be fully investigated. We have one of the busiest planning services in London and processed over 4000 applications in the last year. We also have a good record in terms of the time taken to determine applications and the number of decisions overturned on appeal.
“By their nature, planning applications do not always gain total support of everyone, but our process is transparent and operates to the highest ethical standards, with all interested parties invited to put forward their views for consideration. All complaints about planning, or any council services, are dealt with according to our robust complaints procedure and help us to improve the services we provide. Our records show that in the last year there has been a 44% decrease in the number of planning complaints, along with significant and consistent decline over the past few years.''
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May 8th 2013