Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Council Enforces Westgate Planning Decision

A Westgate man has been fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £75 in costs after pleading guilty to failing to comply with an enforcement notice.

Thanet Council's Planning Committee originally refused planning consent in 2004 for the installation of a shopfront and roller shutters at a property in St. Mildred's Road, which had been installed without planning consent, within the Westgate Conservation Area. They authorised the issuing of an enforcement notice requiring the removal of the shopfront and the roller shutters.

The owner, Jaspal Sohal of Minster Road, Westgate, appealed against this decision, but lost. Lengthy discussions then took place regarding a suitable replacement, but no agreement could be reached. The Council then began legal proceedings against the owner.

Yesterday morning (Monday 11th September), he pleaded guilty at Thanet Magistrates and fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £75 costs to the Council. Following the hearing, the owner has arranged for a new application to be submitted and the required suitable shopfront will be fitted over the Christmas period, providing it receives planning approval.

Cllr. John Kirby, Cabinet Member for Development Services, said:
"This case highlights how determined this Council is to take action on planning matters when we need to and sends out a strong message to property owners. Once we issue an enforcement notice, we will pursue it, no matter how long it takes, to ensure that we get to a satisfactory conclusion. As this case shows, that could mean taking legal action.
Equally, it could mean working with property owners. In this case, we are now at the stage where the action that the Council wanted is finally happening. It's just a shame that it had to go to court to get to this result."


stuart said...

If only they exercised their muscles as much when dealing with the big players like Waterbridge as they do when dealing with small businessmen/women.

Anonymous said...

Millwood Homes Westgate on Sea Aplied on (I assume) behalf of St agustines for the retention of (non planning approval)a rigid sign to be placed on the boundary wall facing Canterbury Road. Their argument in favour (in part) for the application was that a sign had been in place for a long period and that they were only replacing the existing and that no objections had been received. I objected to this sign on the basis that previously they had a removable (non rigid) sign that was put up for Sunday Lunches and Wedding Fares. No such sign either rigid or flexible was ever in place whilst the building was a School. A rigid sign was placed on the wall when the new managers started to open for Sunday Lunches. Even so this sign was not the same size as is now (i.e without the coat of arms0.

My reason fo objection was that the new sign was large and obtrusive, had gold down pointing lights (Like A Thorley Pub)on and was not in keeping with the character of the building, further it was a distraction to passing traffic in so far that anyone driving a vehicle and looking at the sign could possibly cause an accident by the turning of the head.

TDC Planning department granted permission for the sign on the condition that the lights were removed and the colour of the sign changed to dark green to match some of the other signs placed at the entrance and exit to the building.

At the expirery of the period for the changes to be made I contacted TDC planning by telephone and spoke to the officer dealing with this application advising that no action had taken place with reference to the sign and lights.After one further month the sign etc., were still as previous. I contacted the same planning officer by e-mail asking for an update and seeking to know if an extension had been granted for the work to be carried out and advising that the sigh was now attracting graffiti artists (the graffiti now having been removed). A confirmation e-mail advising that my e mail was received by TDC was received by myself. One further month later without any action being taken and without a reply from the planning officer concerned I again contacted the planning officer by e-mail. Yet again a receipt of my e-mail was received. We are now 35 days later still without a reply from the planning officer and no changes to the sign.

In my last e-mail I advised the planning officer that now on the main wall facing onto the highway was an illuminated box showing pictures of the interior and rear garden of St Augustines. A further sign had been put on the exterior wall advertising Tower House and two further signs had been placed at the entrance to the property. Now we have two further (non rigid) removable sign advertising a wedding fare. One thinks possibly none of these additional signs have been given planning permission.

One wonders what the TDC planning department are doing. I do think that an officerwho is paid by the property tax payers should have the decency to reply to enquiries and concerns.

With all of the above in mind do your many experienced readers think that I have a justifiable reason to contact the Local Government Ombudsman and making a formal complaint. As your article states, "its just a pity that one has to go to such lengths" to get the correct results. My further concern also is as time goes bye the conditions for the sign will be forgotten so when the existing sign needs replacing retrospective planning permission will be given.
If St Augustines is leased from the owners of the site shouldn't the lessee have applied for planning permission?

E&OE please excuse any spelling mistakes.


Anonymous said...

This story just illustrates that many opinions expressed on this site in the past are correct. If you are a small shopkeeper, TDC will come at you, all guns firing. If Cllr Kirby really believes the 'tosh' he is spouting then let's see some serious enforcement around the Isle without the 'grace and favour' that most of us witness.

Anonymous said...

cllr kirby was right in what action he took this man went against planning , all he had to do was to ask for advice and he would have got it ,but no he did not do that , don,t always knock the planning or the council when it is not there fault check the facts please

Anonymous said...

cllr kirby was right in what action he took this man went against planning , all he had to do was to ask for advice and he would have got it ,but no he did not do that , don,t always knock the planning or the council when it is not there fault check the facts please

Anonymous said...

I am not suggesting that Cllr Kirby was not correct in pursuing this matter; it is just the fact that many more bigger players out there just get on and do it without planning permission and they are not hauled to court. They are putting up to fingers to TDC and breaking the law as much as this poor guy. Why single him out. All I want to see is fair impartial PROSECUTION by TDC of all who break planning regulations. How long has the illegal fencing at Dreamland been up? Has Cllr Kirby pursued J Godden and Waterbridge with the same enthusiasm?