MERA started out at the beginning of this week talking with local residents who were very annoyed that the garden had been "closed" making it necessary for them to move The Big Lunch from the Recipe Street Garden to the strip of grass at the edge of Eric Street (see The Big Sunday Lunch moved). Towards the end of the week, we're now very clear that there are a significant number of problems with this development.
We've listed them below.
- Unlawful Development: Before any of the development can start, the architects and developers acting on behalf of EastendHomes have to satisfy the planners about a number of different planning conditions. This development went ahead despite the fact that these conditions had not been satisfied. The site has therefore been closed because of its unlawful development in advance of the provision of information which is required to satisfy all the pre-commencement planning conditions.
Breach of Condition 11 (Landscaping Strategy and Management Plan)
A site visit revealed that Open Space 3 has been completed, including landscaping, prior to this condition being formally discharged.
Planning Enforcement Letter
- Not developed according to permitted design - Somebody somewhere missed the point. You don't go to the trouble of seeking planning permission and get designs approved so that you can then go and do the development according to a completely different design. Permission is for the design specified in the drawing submitted with the planning application and that's all. If you want to do something different you have to submit a revised design and get formal approval - which also requires formal consultation with local residents.
- No formal consultation on the revised design - There's no problem about revising a design so long as you give ALL the relevant people the opportunity to comment on it. Consultation is NOT the Project Manager asking a few people whether they agree the development should go ahead. Formal consultation is done by the Council's Planning Department who have to ensure that everybody who needs to know has been informed. This did not happen. Read the repurcussions in the next post.
- MAJOR loss of amenity - due to excessive noise at night. This week MERA has had to write to Planning to advise them about a major complaint by local residents. The open space is now being used all night long by young men who are congregating there in groups and making a significant noise. Residents are now finding it very difficult to sleep at night. Residents are also very disappointed that the Safe Neighbourhood Team have done absolutely nothing to address this issue despite the fact that a Dispersal Zone is in place which includes this garden. Recently residents chose to spend money allocated to the area for improvement - on removing the brick walls which the men used to sit on. These were replaced with fences so the young men have moved to the tables and chairs in the garden. The Crime Prevention Officer is very clear there should be nowhere for young men to sit. Residents will be making representations on this issue to the Safe Neighbourhood Team at its meeting next week. The point is the design should be designing out activities with a negative impact on local amenity rather than increasing problems for residents!!!
- Significant loss of green open space - A very significant amount of green open space for the children to play on has been lost because the car parking area is now a lot bigger than the permitted area. Yet again we appear to have developers who make it up as they go along. If you compare area of parking on the plan to the area of parking in reality, you'll see very quickly that the space allocated to parking has grown very significantly. It should be about 25% of the site and instead it's more like 40% of the site
"I've yet to see a builder with a plan in his hand"
Chair of MERA
- Unlawful materials used. When Councillors were approving this application, one of the points they made to residents was that they were NOT going to allow open space to be reduced unless very high quality landscaping was used on the remaining areas of open space. They gave permission for high quality materials. The developers have substituted with cheaper materials. MERA has complained and EastendHomes have been told that the specified materials need to be used. The tarmac should be removed before the development is completed and MUST be removed before all homes can be occupied (see Planning Condition 11 - Landscaping Strategy & Management Plan)
- Site drainage has been affected - By substituting tarmac for the approved pavoirs, the ratio of permeable (water can go through) to impermeable (water sits on top) materials has been changed. Increasing impermeable materials increases the puddles and the risk of flash floods during heavy rain.
One of the reasons why there is now more flooding around the country is because more and more people have paved their gardens and the water has nowhere to go
Breach of Condition 3: Site ContaminationPlanning Enforcement Letter
After conducting a site visit it is apparent that Open Space 3 has been completed and foundations have been laid at Site 14, prior to Condition 3 having been formally discharged. I have advised the developers that Open Space 3 and site 14 must be closed
- Site Contamination: We have identified from maps that the majority of Open Space 3 (and 4) used to be part of a Ropery and Twine Works. This part of the site includes all the locations where the arsenic, lead and nickel were found in the previous tests as well as the carcinogenic polyaromatic hydrocarbons which are found throughout the Eric & Treby Estate. The results of tests done by Herts & Essex Site Investigations (summarised on Appendix 1 Site Plans and Conceptual Model/Sheet 7 March 2010) very clearly indicate that Open Space 3 is the most contaminated part of the whole site. In other words
- no amount of additional testing is going to eliminate the EXPERT tests already done in March which identified the presence of Arsenice produced the recommendation that 0.5 metres of soil needed to be removed
- None of these tests can be ignored when making an assessment about this site and reviewing the recommendations of the experts as set out in the report which has already been submitted to the Council in relation to the approval of details relating to site contamination/site remediation.
Hopefully by highlighting the issues we can get this changed as development proceeds on Eric & Treby.
You can do this by clicking the link below
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