Further update on ‘Conditions? What conditions?

The statement below is from EDDC in response to Wainhomes’ non-compliance with planning conditions placed on them by Ken Barton, the Planning Inspector, when he allowed Wainhomes to build 50 houses in Feniton in 2012.

Immediately we became aware that Wainhomes had not complied with this condition of the planning permission granted to them on appeal, we informed them verbally that they should correct the omission as a matter of urgency. We have since written to Wainhomes and are insisting that they carry out the necessary works as soon as possible and that they provide us with a timetable showing when they intend to comply.

If Wainhomes fail to act quickly enough, the next step is to issue them with a breach of condition notice and there are more severe sanctions that could be considered if they ignore this notice.

The homes should not have been occupied until this condition had been fulfilled. Whilst the homes themselves may not be at risk, there is a very real danger that Wainhomes’ failure to do this work could make the village more vulnerable to flooding as a result of the absence of the attenuation tanks. This is a very serious omission and we will be watching the situation closely and expecting an early response from Wainhomes.

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12 Responses to Further update on ‘Conditions? What conditions?

  1. Mike Rigby says:

    What a surprise? A housebuilder not complying with pre-occupation conditions. Here in Somerset we have been waiting two years for a roundabout required by a condition of a housing consent, all homes long-since occupied. The system is broken and the housebuilders unnecessarily make their own lives more difficult as the public refuse to believe any of their promises.

  2. Feuxdusoleil says:

    Well done Susie. Is there any possibility of getting EDDC enforcement to stop any further occupation so that the sewer works can be completed?

  3. Sue and Terry collins says:

    EDDC stop pussy footing around, we have to suffer the consequence of wainhomes failure to comply,as a villager who has suffered constant flooding and one delay after another from EDDC In trying to get a diversion ditch dug to stop our properties being flooded, I say sort wainhomes out in a much more speedy proactive Manner. As a householder I am sure if I contravened any planning law I would get dealt with, so a quick firm conclusions is needed now, and those attenuation tanks need to be placed A.S.A.P before the winter.

  4. Paul says:

    East Devon’s Job Vacancies page is advertising for a Planning Enforcement Officer, and I was interested to note that the job description is all about ensuring that developments have planning permission and NOTHING about enforcing planning conditions on approved applications like the Wainhomes development in Feniton.

    The implication is that EDDC feels that it does not need to provide resources to check that planning conditions have been met even in high-risk situations like flooding in Feniton. If EDDC don’t bother to check, giving the appearance that these conditions are purely pro-forma and not of real importance, is it really surprising that such conditions are ignored by developers.

    It seems to me that EDDC should insisting that Wainhomes vacate the properties until the conditions have been met. That would mean Wainhomes paying compensation to the purchasers of those properties as well as delaying any further sales (not to mention the associated bad publicity), all of which would both provide the appropriate financial incentives for Wainhomes to undertake the flood abatement work that they should have already carried out and act as a deterrent to similar disregard of planning conditions on other developments.

    I also wonder whether there is an issue with the conveyancing process for those customers who have already purchased one of the Wainhomes properties. I would presume that their solicitors undertook Local Searches with EDDC, and I would have expected these to include a check that the developer had met the planning conditions and that the homes were therefore in compliance with the planning permission. So, assuming that the solicitors would have prevented the purchase if they knew that the planning conditions had not been complied with, then either:

    a. The Local Searches did not include questions about compliance with planning conditions; or

    b. EDDC incorrectly said that the development was in compliance with the planning conditions.

    Presumably one or more of the existing purchasers of these homes would be able to find out, and I would certainly be interested to know which of these is the case.

  5. Paul says:

    Further research on the EDDC web site (http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/job_pack_07046_july_08.pdf) shows that EDDC’s Planning Enforcement team have a responsibility for “Keeping records of Planning conditions and ensuring compliance through the appropriate action” but whereas:

    1. For developments without planning permissions, they proactively “Keep the District under surveillance … and follow up on unauthorised development, display of adverts and enforcement of tree preservation orders”; and

    2. For temporary planning consents, they “keep a list” and proactively “follow up when these are expired”

    it seems that Planning Conditions are only recorded and EDDC only reacts when a complaint is made, presumably after an incident has actually occurred.

  6. Paul says:

    An explanation of Planning Enforcement processes and priorities can be found at http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/plg_enforcementleaflet2012.pdf .

  7. Paul says:

    It also appears that EDDC has a choice of 3 possible approaches to resolving this issue:

    1. Non-legal discussions with the developers;

    2. An “enforcement notice” which is subject to appeal; or

    3. A “breach of condition notice” which is “intended as an alternative to an enforcement notice for remedying a breach of control arising from failure to comply with any planning condition or limitation” and “it may also be served in addition to the issue of an enforcement notice, perhaps as an alternative to a stop notice, where the LPA consider it expedient to stop the breach quickly and before any appeal against the enforcement notice is determined, because, for example, it is causing serious environmental harm, or detriment to amenity or public safety”. “It is particularly apt for use where a valid planning condition has clearly been breached and the salutary experience of summary prosecution (or the threat of prosecution) seems likely to compel the person responsible to comply with the condition.”

    This seems like a case where a “breach of condition notice” might be appropriate rather than either of the other two weaker approaches.

  8. Cate Edmonds says:

    Well at least something is being done. WE wait with baited breath,

  9. Peter Bending says:

    You would have thought that Wainhomes, being aware of the flooding situation in Feniton would have, as a public relations excercise, put the the tanks in at the first opportunity so they could say ” look what we are doing for you, aren’t we the responsible,caring developers” However the fault really does rest on EDDC shoulders, the building inspectors must be visiting the site (When I built an extension they paid me several visits) and surely must have realized that the tanks had not been installed. Are they scared of Wainhomes?
    Of course this situation might not have arisen at all if EDDC had got their act together and got the 5 year supply plan in place moons ago and then this site would probably not won their appeal.

  10. Paul says:

    I guess this is the case of departmentalisation – left hand and right hand operating independently.

    Enforcing planning restrictions is the responsibility of the Planning department. In essence, the Building Control inspectors are called in by the builders at key points in the build (e.g. foundations complete, drains complete), to make sure that the buildings are being built in conformance to the Building Control Regulations.

    Of course, since Building Control inspectors are making site visits, it makes perfect sense for them to check (on behalf of Planning) whether planning consent restrictions have been met yet or not – and if they have not been met when the building control inspectors sign-off the completed building they could tell the planning department – but since when has “perfect sense” been part of any central or local government approach?

    • susiebond says:

      The Building Control function has been contracted to the NHBC, which is quite normal for a large building project and ties in with their warranty scheme.

      The situation with the attenuation tanks is now firmly in the hands of officers in the Planning Enforcement Department, who, as you’ve pointed out in previous posts, have quite Draconian powers which can be brought to bear.

  11. Peter Bending says:

    “The situation with the attenuation tanks is now firmly in the hands of officers in the Planning Enforcement Department, who, as you’ve pointed out in previous posts, have quite Draconian powers which can be brought to bear.”

    BUT WILL THEY?

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