Over the past number of years, Ealing Council has allowed the planning department to be vilified by many residents and Residents’ Associations.
Any area of the Council that involves a relationship with residents needs to ensure that there is a high level of customer care. Within the planning system we have seen the following issues being commonly reported:
- Poor or a lack of communication
- Missing documents on the Planning website
- Planning Committee meetings taking place, ignoring residents views
- Mistakes made by Planning officers
- Issues regarding how Councillors vote on planning matters
One criticism levelled at Ealing Council, by Residents' Associations, is that their specialist knowledge in local planning matters is so often ignored.
Liberal Democrats believe that groups who spend such a large amount to their time researching and contributing ideas should be not just consulted with, but used to ensure that the right types of housing and retail space is built in a way that improves Ealing. Currently we see much high density housing with little of the needed infrastructure.
Other comments made by residents, that need resolving, include:
- It is almost impossible to ring planning officers. When you leave a message, you hardly get a call back.
- Letters to inform residents of a local planning application goes to the wrong people.
- There is meant to be 21 days to make representation in the consultation process but when plan are revised no additional time is given.
- Why did the Council not consult users when they are going through the process of changing the new planning website software?
- Why has there not been a meeting of the Planning Services User Group for a long time?
- Planning website is not user friendly and is very difficult to search.
- The Planning Committee appears too commonly not to have the correct facts to make a proper decision. Some documentation only arrives a few hours before the meetings and so the Planning Committee cannot be expected to make an informed judgement.
- Last minute negotiations with senior planning officers and developers take place meaning that alterations cannot be scrutinised properly.
- New Councillors are not fully trained before they make decisions!
- The planning enforcement team does not work. The Council is allowing people to break the rules with hardly any penalties handed out.
A council committee I vice chair has agreed to discuss the planning process in Ealing so please come along if you have views on these matters. The meeting will take place at 7pm on Thursday December 11 in Committee Room 3, Ealing Town Hall.
The Liberal Democrats believe Ealing Council needs to totally revamp its planning services offering.