George Clarke’s recent Channel 4 documentary “Council House Scandal” celebrated 100 years since the Addison Act of 1919 kick started Council Estate building. Sadly since the Right to Buy was introduced properties have not been replaced, hence the current shortage of Council properties for rent. GC has launched a National campaign to encourage Government to build more Council homes and has secured land in Manchester to demonstrate how to build good standard homes at reasonable cost. The programme highlighted a problem with commercial properties being converted to rentable homes under “permitted development” which fail to meet minimum acceptable standards for room sizes. Unfortunately this type of development introduced by Government reduced the power of local Planning Offices to enforce standards and bypass the formal planning processes.
The growth in permitted development could potentially lead to problems during conveyancing on house sale/purchase when the status of each building on site is investigated whether these are new build or change of use. Ideally a Lawful Development Certificate should be produced. To avoid risk to the seller/purchaser the seller can purchase an Indemnity Policy in the name of the purchaser. Not until permitted development is scrapped and the planning process returned to conventional planning application/building control will standards return to normal.
June/July/ August weather has continued to be untypical for this time of the year with short periods of high temperature near 37 centigrade and prolonged periods of heavy rainfall. Surprisingly total annual rainfall to the end of August is only 82% of average resulting from the extremely low rainfall earlier in the year.
Anyone interested in participating in discussions with the E/A over future flood defence requirements and contributing with their own local knowledge of flooding are again invited to contact me directly.
Flooding issues have hit the headlines with major incidents in Lincolnshire and Tewksbury in a year when climate change has surfaced as a major issue. The E/A’s Emma Howard Boyd and Sir James Bevan have initiated the launch of a review of Flood and Coastal Management Strategy in May 2019 which will form the basis of the Government Statement in October 2019 setting out their long term goals. They claim over 500,000 homes are at risk of regular flooding requiring families to relocate their homes.
Locally 2019 started the year up to the end of May with only 52% of the average rainfall which compares with 106% for 2018. However June has seen almost continuous rainfall currently at 64% above the June average at 88mm compared with 1mm for 2018. The River has coped well rising only 1.1m at its peak on 12/13th May largely as a result of limited run off due to excessively dry land in the catchment area and the effect of the E/A work on the River and Horestone Brook.
In May the Government extended “permitted development” to allow further increase in the size of extensions to properties as part of their policy to improve /increase housing. Many Councils have expressed concerns describing the PD Policy as a planning disaster often causing conflict between neighbours resulting in unsuitable developments over which the Councils have little control. Even more concerning is the lack of protection for the individual through any suitable complaints procedure. Recent experience shows that any so called “Complaints Processes” are ineffective and biased and can only assess following of procedures not change of decisions.
I have recently held several meetings with the E/A to discuss implementation of refusal for permitted development rights under Article 4 to ensure compliance with the legal responsibility of landowners not to impede the flow of flood water as this is a criminal offence under Common Law. Unless this is implemented then building on the floodplain will continue unabated.
As a result of conflict of interest I proposed to close down CFG. However the E/A wished to continue working together especially as a new submission for flood defence funding for the Village is proposed for August/September 2019. Having spent 21 years campaigning for improvements in Nether Heyford I feel its time to step back and invite anyone interested in flooding issues to contact me so that the future of the Village can be secured.