Sunday, 5 September 2010

Mile End Estate Management Board - queries, comments and complaints

Many local residents have concerns about the development of the Eric & Treby Estate and how it is going to affect them. However many people don't realise that they are able to comment direct to the Council about their concerns. 

You can object to planning proposals if it affects your life, home or amenity.  Here in Tower Hamlets (and every other local authority in the country) the democratic system puts a priority on ordinary residents having an input to important planning decisions which affect their lives.

This means everybody is entitled to comment to the Council about any planning policy or planning application which affects their lives, their property and their amenity (eg peaceful enjoyment of where you live).  
The Minister of Town and Country Planning in 1951 stated that 'anything ugly, dirty, noisy, crowded or uncomfortable may injure the interests of amenity'. Amenity is often a material consideration in planning decisions.
You can even OBJECT if you want to! Not only that but the Council INVITES us to comment if you live nearby!

You can do more than just comment on planning matters.  If you have a concern about a proposed development, you can
  • get questions about planning aspects answered by the Council's Planning Officers
  • submit an objection to a planning application direct to the Council
  • ask the Council's Planning Enforcement Team to take action about developments which deviate from what has been agreed
  • contact Highways to express your views about obstructions to the streets and pavements
  • contact Environmental Health and ask for support about aspects of developments which constitute a statutory environmental nuisance - such as noise
The important point is that you do NOT have to direct your comments to the applicant (ie EastendHomes) or any intermediary (including the Estate Management Board or MERA).   You can if you choose - but it's your choice.

However you may want to provide your feedback direct to EastendHomes........

How Mile End Estate Management Board handles feedback

This is the Resident Involvement page on the EastendHomes website.  It states
Local delivery of services, decision making and accountability are at the heart of EastendHomes approach.
However some of the Board members on EastendHomes' Mile End Management Board have criticised MERA for representing residents' views direct to the Council's Planning Department!
MERA’s direct complaints to the Planning Department should have been discussed with the Board in the first instance and DO added that MERA’s action had subsequently undermined the Board.
Minutes of Mile End Estate (Special) Board Meeting 10th June 2010 (MERA inserted the bold italics in above quote)
It seems to MERA that Board members may fail to understand the distinction between comments/objections about planning applications and complaints.

They may also not appreciate that all households have various opportunities to make representations about various matters about redevelopment contracts direct to the Council. Residents in Mile End are doing this more and more as they lose confidence in the Board's approach to handling comments and complaints promptly and effectively.

Bernie Cameron (Chair of the Mile End Estate Management Board, Vice Chair of the EastendHomes Main Board and “Resident of the Year" - whose photo is frequently in EEH publications but who is NOT seen often on the Eric & Treby Estate) has suggested we should approach the Board with any queries we have about the building works.
Too much tarmac and too little grass and permeable surfaces
means Telford Homes MUST redo this landscaping
  • The Chair of MERA raised an example of just one aspect of the current development by Telford Homes at a meeting with the Board held on 10th June. (download minutes here). 
  • To date there has been no response despite reminders.
  • However, after contacting the Council direct about exactly the same matter, MERA received a letter from Planning Enforcement in July indicating that this area of concern MUST be addressed by Telford Homes on behalf of EastendHomes as it does not form part of the permitted development.
MERA would consider approaching the Board but we have serious reservations about its speed of response and overall effectiveness.

On the whole we still need to be persuaded that the Board is very accessible, genuinely interested, will listen carefully to residents' concerns and take prompt action to address them.

MERA says....
  • comments and/or objections are NOT complaints per se and 
  • comments and/or objections do NOT have to reported to the Board first
  • some issues need to be addressed quickly - and can't wait until the next Board meeting - whenever that is....
  • if the Board doesn't sort issues out quickly then residents are left with no option but to go direct to the Council
MERA would like to know how local residents' queries, comments and complaints regarding the development proposals can properly be  dealt with by the Estate Managament Board which has.....
  • NOT met in a normal session open to residents since 22nd April 2010 as indicated on the website...
The Mile End Board meets regularly at the British Street Community Hall.
  • NOT included the latest minutes on the website - the latest are Minutes 4 March 2010
  • a POOR TRACK RECORD in involving the residents from Eric & Treby Estate in decision-making which affects their lives 
  • IGNORED very many representations about the planning application being made by tenants and leaseholders to the Council in 2009 - and FAILED to respond adequately to the concerns which were highlighted.
  • FAILED to highlight on its website how local residents can contact the Mile End Board
  • FAILED to highlight how residents can get a quick response to queries from the Board
  • FAILED to highlight to residents how they can comment to the Council on the Application for Approval of Details of Planning Conditions to residents  (unlike MERA)
  • NEVER made any comments to Planning about various matters which are an infringement of the conditions of the permitted development (unlike MERA which has been very active in this area - resulting in visits from the Planning Enforcement Team and the Health and Safety Executive and subsequent enforcement action)
  • NOT responded to queries from MERA about building works
  • several VACANT places on the Board and inactive members
  • NO EVIDENCE (in Board minutes) that the Mile End Estate Management Board has even seen - never mind signed off - the revised Construction Management Plan for the Eric & Treby Estate.  (It took MERA 30 pages to comment on all the errors and omission in the plan)
  • NO RELATIONSHIP whatsoever with the local Mile End householders who do not live in EastendHomes Properties;
  • NO EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION with other local Mile End householders who do not live in EastendHomes Properties about their concerns.  Many have been totally ignored despite representations.
Mile End Estate Management Board also refuses to recognise MERA!  Apparently we undermine it, don't fit their structures, etc. etc.

The reality is that MERA does exist, does represent local resident's views to the Council and provides support to individuals who want to make their own independent representations.

PLUS as a direct result of writing direct to Tower Hamlets Planning and the Health and Safety Executive, MERA has secured changes which will improve the health and safety of the environment for local residents

Would we have got the same result in the same time by submitting comments direct to the Mile End Estate Management Board?

We don't think so! What do you think?

Tomorrow - find out how to make a comment. We'll highlight what you can comment on and explain how to comment or register an objection to a planning application.

KEEP UPDATED: Subscribe to MERA - Mile End Residents Association Blog by Email


  1. I think MERA's actions do undermine the board, but only because they highlight that the board is failing to understand residents' concerns.
    That the board can be undermined is entirely their own fault.
    MERA should keep up their good work at representing our interests!


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