Chiswick Councillor Queries Costs Over Planning 'Blunder'
Says quashed decision could cost thousands in taxpayers money
A Chiswick councillor has claimed that a "foolhardy blunder" of Hounslow Council’s Labour-dominated Planning Committee is costing local taxpayers thousands of pounds.
Councillor Samantha Davies (Conservative, Turnham Green Ward) says the Planning committee is spending a large sum of money in legal fees and administrative costs to quash a decision which is being challenged in connection with illuminated signage on a Council tower block near Brentford.
“Hounslow’s Planning Committee, which comprises a majority of Labour councillors, defied professional advice from, inter alia, English Heritage and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew to initially allow the erection of an illuminated commercial sign, which was to be placed on top of the residential building of Boulton Towers in Brentford.
"The Royal Botanic Gardens then challenged this planning assent, which threatened its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After obtaining legal advice, the Council then agreed that it needed to seek permission from the High Court to quash the initially defective decision, so that the application may be reconsidered by the Council," she said.
Councillor Davies said that she asked at the Borough Council Meeting of 27 November for details of the current known and anticipated costs, including administrative, legal, any compensatory and any other possible expenses.
"Approximately £5,000 in costs have already been identified, which does not include such elements as Council Officer time, as this would be too difficult to quantify. In addition, there is no guarantee that this figure would not escalate, to the Council Tax-payers’ detriment, in the future."
She said that she did not receive a proper answer to her question,"only political rhetoric designed to hide inadequate decisions", but she would endeavour to ensure that the figure is not hidden from "hard-pressed" tax-paying local residents.
Hounslow Council's Sustainable Development Committee approved the controversial plans for the top of Boulton House in Brentford, despite advice from planning officials.
The West Chiswick and Gunnersbury Society was one of a group of several to oppose it. The decision was made to allow the illuminated signage on Boulton House, one of the six 23-storey council-owned residential tower blocks in Green Dragon Lane despite objections from English Heritage, the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew and the London Borough of Richmond.
November 29, 2012