Many people were appalled by the flagrant disregard of local planning rules displayed by a local landlord and property developer on last night’s BBC documentary about the Cally. It was striking that he was cynically exploiting the lag/drag in planning enforcement that the council displays periodically.
UPDATE – a good post from Cllr Convery over on his blog
Cllr Paul Convery comments “Andrew Panayi is well known on the Cally and is a likeable, larger than life character. But some of his business practices seem distinctly suspect – as he himself admits in the TV programme. But he is wrong to think he can get away with this. The Council is currently taking enforcement action on a number of properties he has constructed recently. Recently we opposed a particularly large development to construct another floor of bedsits above the Co-op and the planning permission was refused.
But it is possible to get some resident-initiated enforcement. Way back in 2006, just after I had started this website I got a call from Gloria Johnson who, from her eerie in Perth House had spotted huge piles of rubbish on the fire escape at Residence Primrose, i believe the building over the Co-op that was fleetingly referred to in the film. And the fire escape that was crudely constructed from scaffold poles and wooden planks – not the best material for a fire escape. I took photos and reported this to the council, the fire escape was cleared. A few years later in 2009 a similar problem occurred. I raised it this time with Cllr Paul Convery who organised a snap inspection as he reported in the comments on the blog post. Council officers reported:
An Environmental Health Officer and Building Control Officer have visited the premises and can confirm that the premises does not require a licence as a house in mutiple occupation.
The Buidling Control Officer can confirm that there are no immediate structural safety concerns and is reviewing the case files to audit compliance with the current Building Regulations.
Following the survey some safety issues were identified with regards to the internal and external fire escapes and a concern with the fire alarm. The Environmental Health Officer will be working with the London Fire Brigade and will ensure that these concerns are dealt with.
The landlord is currently fully co-operating with the Council, but should progress and co-operation not be forthcoming, we will then require any works by a formal notice.
The fire escape was subsequently replaced with a proper steel structure. This is of course an isolated example where I used a local environmental body (the then Task Group) and then basic publication to work with the council to drive some simple enforcement. I strongly believe that observant, active local people have to work with the Council to get stuff done. But you can only get so far that way.
Over on the Cally Councillors blog you can see Cllr Convery stopping yet more flats being built above the Co-op and an epic multi-year campaign to take planning enforcement to its logical conclusion and demolish illegal buildings on Pembroke Street. Despite some individual heroics though, something has been up with the system as a whole.