Ealing’s new planning notification system criticised

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The move from neighbour notification letters to lamp post site notices near proposed developments in Ealing has been criticised…

The way in which Ealing’s planning department informs local residents about new planning applications has allegedly led to an increase in complaints.

Ealing replaced its neighbour notification letters system with new lamp post site notices in July. The move was made in February 2015 after the administration agreed to save £30,000 in the Planning Services budget. However, the change has reportedly resulted in costly re-evaluations and consultations.

Councillors at the local authority said they had experienced an increase in the amount of correspondence relating to planning issues since the notification system was changed.

Conservative Planning Lead Councillor Joanna Dabrowska said: “Since its introduction the number of enquiries in my mailbag has ballooned.

“Many have resulted in inadequate consultation and the need for a re-consultation. This inefficiency has increased the council officer (and senior management intervention) time spent on dealing with such enquiries and then repeating the planning process.

“With the added potential of unscrupulous developers taking down the signs leaving residents none the wiser, this makes a mockery of the planning system.

“’Too often this delays the determination of planning applications and also puts further strain on an already busy planning department.

“The Labour administration are making cuts for cuts’ sake instead of looking at cost efficiencies. This is a false saving as the hidden cost of dealing with the additional workload will exceed the planned savings.”

The councillor called on the local authority to reinstate the previous system.

In other London boroughs the councils are trying different notification systems. Hounslow is in the process of piloting a system to post notices on two sites, a weekly newsletter, and on social media. The project, which gained funding from the Department of Communities and Local Government, is being undertaken in partnership with Neighbour Net. Ealing Council was asked to participate in the project but declined.

According to the local authority there were 19 complaints from residents regarding a lack of consultation last year. Since the new system was introduced there have been nine, with no re-consultations.

Council Leader Julian Bell said, “It is nonsense to suggest that the changes we have made have led to more complaints, there have actually been fewer complaints under the new system.

“We will make the savings we have budgeted for, it is factually wrong to say these savings are more costly. It tells you everything you need to know about the Conservative opposition group that they have made these claims without asking officers for the actual numbers.”

1 COMMENT

  1. The delivery of this type of information is a problem in Ealing. Neighbour Net is not the answer. You only have to connect to one of its local websites like ealingtoday.co.uk to realize that the web software technology Neighbour Net is using is not remotely current. The sites Neighbour Net operate are clunky and you only have to connect to the local community forum area and try to post a comment to realize that this company employ web designers who are clearly not familiar with Facebook or any any of the major daily newspapers online websites. It is not possible to view the comments in anything other than oldest-first order and the search engine is very primitive. The site could have been cooked up by a sixth-former in an afternoon and it is hardly an appropriate way to circulate planning notice information.

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