Camden’s Labour Cabinet has officially decided to stop sending letters to residents when planning applications are submitted for properties neighbouring theirs. I proposed a council motion against this proposal in November.
In response, I – along with Conservative Cllrs Williams, Spinella, and Leyland – have triggered the formal process to hold up the decision until further evidence can be examined and the decision scrutinised by the appropriate scrutiny committee: a process called a ‘call-in’.
The formal grounds for the call-in will be published online when the meeting to scrutinise the decision is scheduled. In brief:
- Feedback from residents is incredibly valuable, and often improves conservation and saves Camden money. We cited Obar v Camden in the call-in, but there are many such cases.
- The decision to go towards an online system of notifications is premature given the low penetration of Camden online accounts. Only a tiny proportion of people subscribe to alerts telling them about nearby planning applications.
- Camden’s system is far more expensive than in other boroughs or the private sector. As a deputee told Camden’s Cabinet, Croydon’s service costs just £58,600 a year: a quarter as much as Camden’s. Costs should be cut before services are.
- The consultation was horrendously poorly organised and didn’t allow residents to oppose the change.
As a result, the service is incredibly valuable, cannot yet be replaced by high-tech solutions, can be delivered for lower cost than it is without cutting services, and was too poorly consulted on to thought-through.
For these reasons and others, Camden should reverse its decision to end postal notifications of planning applications.
For more about my campaign to oppose over-development, click here.