From: Robert Rosenthal <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: 22 March 2017 16:17
Cc:email@example.com; Leo Littman; Julie Cattell; Sonia.Gillam@brighton-hove.gov.uk; ‘Edward White’; Sylvia Peckham; firstname.lastname@example.org; ‘Grenville Nation’
Subject: 140-146 Springfield Road
Dear Ms Hobden
I write to express concern over your department’s management of the planning conditions relating to the plot of land between the Open House pub on Springfield Road and the railway line. There are clear S106 conditions relating to this permission, insisting on the sensitive relocation of slow worms before the commencement of development.
A critical question throughout has been ‘what constitutes commencement?’ When the developers breached the wall (which is not part of the development area and is not the property of the developer as legal documents in our possession show) to gain access and clear all vegetation from the site, we were told by Cllr Cattell that it was well established in planning circles that commencement is marked by the breaking of ground for foundation work. Therefore we were told this demolition and vegetation clearance did not represent ‘commencement’ and so was not a breach of the S106 conditions. Therefore no action could be taken to prevent the vegetation clearance.
Now Mr Hodgetts and Ms Gillam tell us that commencement was marked by the breaching of the wall and vegetation clearance. In this case the S106 conditions have clearly been breached in which case the council had then -and has now- an obligation to take action to prevent all development until they have been met. It is a perverse twist of logic to argue retrospectively and in addition, that S106 conditions ‘ aren’t impacted by the demolition of the wall … and are still possible to discharge’. While the breaching of the wall may not of itself be seen as damaging to slow worm population, it is surely beyond dispute that the subsequent clearance of the vegetation has represented a deliberate destruction of the habitat that supports slow worm existence in spite of ongoing investigation and discussion of the status of the slow worm community. This represents a legal offence according to the definition provided by Ms Gillam, as the developers have in so doing ‘intentionally kill(ed) or injure(d) a slow worm(s)’. The developers’ actions have violated the spirit as well as the letter of planning conditions.
I am sorry to say that in this case council officers seem to have provided more support and succor for the developer than they have acted as guardians of the local community interest. And it comes as a shocking coup de grace for Ms Gillam to write that ‘The ownership of the wall is irrelevant in terms of commencement of development’ and for Mr Hodgetts to announce that he has now closed the enforcement case as there are ‘no enforceable breaches’.
I request that you intervene personally to investigate your officers’ handling of this case, that the case remain open and that public concerns be given the serious consideration that they deserve. Enforcement is now urgently required to ensure no further development take place until all conditions have been met.
Robert Rosenthal (Chair – Southdown Rise Residents’ Association)
Nicola Hurley’s letter in response to Rob’s complaint – BHC-025706 Springfield Road