We had the unfortunate experience of attending Hillingdon Council's north planning committee on February 5.
This committee has been instigated to uphold the democratic process within the planning system. This was clearly not the case at that meeting.
Seven of the applications were contested by petitions, and with a strong public spirit, petitioners had put in a considerable amount of time and effort to present well argued cases.
However, members of the planning committee appeared bored and uninterested in the proceedings, and paid scant attention to the detailed arguments put forward by the petitioners.
Discussion upon the merits and demerits of each item was virtually non-existent.
Only a few half-hearted challenges were made to the planning officers and the chairman did not sum up at the end of each discussion, putting forward the arguments for and against. This is not democracy being seen to be done.
Because of the lack of diligence and action we now have substandard applications passed: noisy wind turbines which, by central Government directive and Consumer Association testing, are considered ineffectual and use more electricity than they produce (Ickenham).
Removal of a substantial house and replacement with flats (Ickenham). Two applications passed for this site, giving the developer free choice of number of flats and design.
Overdevelopment of a very small site, so small there is not room for a fire tender to enter (Northwood).
House extension, contrary to Hillingdon's Design and Access Statement (Eastcote).
A return to the Dickensian era, by allowing back-to-back houses (Ruislip). It was clear that there were far too many items major on the agenda.
No-one can be expected to sensibly consider applications in a meeting lasting over three and half hours.
Planning committees are set up to provide checks and balances, to ask questions and demand answers.
If this is the standard which we can expect in the future there seems very little point in continuing without a radical change of attitudes and procedures.
CHRIS GROOM AND LESLEY CROWCROFT,
Eastcote Residents' Association, by email.