A shop kiosk was moved from London Bridge to Elephant & Castle at the request of one Southwark Council department weeks before another arm of the authority took enforcement action to remove the structure from its new pitch, a planning inspector has heard.
Government-appointed planning inspector Gareth Symons sat at Southwark Council's Tooley Street offices on Tuesday morning to hear an appeal by trader Miroslav Radu against an enforcement notice to remove his kiosk.
The enforcement notice was made the following month and in September Mr Radu was ordered to stop trading.
Mr Radu, of the Rockingham Estate, claims that he relocated voluntarily to the Elephant & Castle at the request of Southwark Council which wished to reduce clutter on London Bridge. However, at the hearing it was argued by a planning officer that the hut should be moved from the Elephant & Castle site "to reduce clutter" at that location.
John McHenry, Southwark markets and street trading manager, said that a temporary licence had been granted for a 10 x 8 ft structure. Mr Radu said he was willing to consider reducing the size of his hut brought from London Bridge.
In reply to claims that the pavement was too crowded for hut to be placed there, Patrick Blunt from Business Extra said that three years ago his organisation had – with permission – placed an information caravan in the same space for a period without any problems. "This is a very quiet area," he added.
The inspector heard objections from representatives of a newsagents and cafe in the nearby tube station building who suggested that their trade could be affected by a new outlet. The hut would sell confectionary, soft drinks, and phone cards.
The Department of Health facilities manager at nearby Skipton House, who objected to the hut, expressed concern about the structure being raised on pallets since the area was known to suffer from mice and rats. He also warned that the exterior corner of his building was often used by groups stealing mobile phones from people waiting for buses.
But Mr Blunt said that in combating crime it was important to have a living street with open shops which could serve as refuges from anti-social behaviour.
Mr Symons's final decision is due to be published next month.