I HEAR that Cecil Park is about to be made a conservation area.
Before the residents do decide to agree to this, they may like to hear about the experiences of the residents of Pinnerwood Park conservation area, since it was made a
conservation area in 1989. This was a bit late, as many residents had already started changing windows, garage doors and driveways with modern, longer lasting replacements.
We have just taken part in a public consultation on our area, which quite a number of residents took the trouble to take part in.
I have been on the Pinnerwood Park conservation area residents' association committee for seven years, and most of that time the main concern of the residents has been the deterioration of the windows, and their wish to replace them with modern, 21st century, maintenance free materials like aluminium or UPVC, but Harrow Council has refused anyone that has applied for planning permission to do so, saying that we would only be allowed to replace any windows with wood and only wood (their words) even though as they have given planning permission for aluminium windows in one part of the conservation area but then go on to say that this decision does not set a precedent.
Well, we are afraid that, in our opinion, it has. So what has been happening is that many residents have taken the law into their own hands and replaced windows, driveways and garage doors without planning permission, resulting in other residents informing the council, thereby causing a lot of unrest between residents.
After the consultation period took place, the council's decision was that the 'wood and only wood' policy would stand, even though residents had received quotes of anything from £10,000 to £15,000 - in my case for just the front of my house from companies taken from a list of recommended suppliers that her own conservation officers gave us.
The equivalent quotes for other modern materials were in most cases, well below half the price of wood.
The council's solution to our problems and the rotten windows that residents have not already replaced with modern materials is tighten screws on window hinges, buy secondary double glazing, buy quilted curtains or get cavity wall insulation.
The council are not even aware of the fact that the
houses on our estate are not constructed with cavity walls.
It seems to us all that we should try and save the planet by making our houses warmer and more energy efficient, by installing better and more secure windows and insulation of our lofts.
But according to Harrow's Local Development Framework committee, none of this applies to conservation areas in Harrow, even though the council signed up to the Nottingham Declaration on Climate change in July 2007.
There we are: the council asked us to take part in their consultation and asked us for our thoughts and suggestions and then ignored them. So we can only conclude that they had already decided their policy on windows long before the consultation period took place.
Even though we handed in a petition of 200 signatures and more than 30 handwritten letters of support for a change to the policy, all the council could come up with was eights letters in support.
Wouldn't you think that with these results, the residents won, and we could now look forward to cheaper heating bills, whilst saving the planet and all live happily ever after? But not if you live in Harrow.
What happened to democracy?
PETER DAY Latimer Gardens