Becky Beach has kindly offered Enfield Town Residents Association (ETRA) the opportunity to submit articles to N21 Directory and we thank her for this offer. Although the Enfield Town group sits outside the N21 postcode we share many of the concerns that exercise the members of Winchmore Hill Residents Association and other residents in that area.
In the April issue Brian Foyle of WHRA wrote of his disappointment with planning legislation and pointed to the problems that selfish neighbours can cause and the weaknesses in legislation that allow inappropriate developments to take place.
We at Enfield Town Residents Association (ETRA) share his concerns on this point. What is particularly worrying is that the Council now seems to be positively disposed towards inappropriate development. Historic homes are being torn down to make way for flats. High density development is being encouraged.
When a developer proposed building a four bedroom house on the garden of an existing house in a local road, some 52 households objected. Did LBE listen to those objections? No. LBE approved the plans, after several rounds in court fighting residents’ objections.
The reason for LBE’s support for developers is easy to understand. The highest council tax band brings them £2,840.34 a year. The lowest band brings in £946.78. So if a large house is knocked down and a block of just four one-bedroom flats is built in its place, this means the council makes an additional £946 per year. More or larger flats mean even more money rolling into the LBE coffers. A four bedroom house would probably be banded as a minimum at Band E – thus bringing in an additional £1,705 for the loss of a garden.
Yes times are hard and the Council is not reticent to tell us how unfair funding from central government is for the borough. The money provides a clear incentive for LBE to approve such developments. Nonetheless, is that really sufficient reason to ignore the views of so many local residents? And in fact, the Council’s actions appear at times to go beyond that, as their recent actions suggest.
LBE recently decided to sell off several properties. Quite why they decided to do that when, according to local newspaper reports of the outcomes of Freedom of Information requests, LBE was simultaneously paying Estate Agents a retainer to alert them when houses and flats appeared on the market, is open to debate. Whatever the reason, included amongst the properties being sold off were two about which the Council said, respectively: “It is considered that the property [on Baker Street] may be suitable for extension or development subject to the necessary consents. Interested parties should refer to a brief statement on planning potential prepared by LB Enfield Property Services and provided as part of the sales particulars”, while properties at Willow Walk were being sold with the suggestion from LBE that the lot might be “suitable for redevelopment to comprise high quality homes, subject to the necessary consents. Development guidance and a preliminary layout, prepared by the council is available to download from our website.”
So the Council isn’t just encouraging development, it’s doing part of the developer’s job for them. LBE would probably argue that this is worthwhile as it will bring in more money in the short term, but this is work that the developer conventionally would pay for. So is this really what council officers should be spending their time on when other services are being cut?
You can contact ETRA by emailing: [email protected]