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St George Bullying Local residents

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Thursday 5 June 2003 9.01am
I posted a while back that at Metro Central heights ( the very large blue and white Erno Goldfinger building nr the Slavation army building and E and C roundabout ) was having plans submitted by St George to build a 13 storey block on the residents car park. The proposed building will be 15 - 20 metres away from the existing building ( 1m away formt he railway track ) and completely remove light from these flats whilst the noise during buildiing ...well it needs no explaining. The council refused the planning on grounds of two of their amendments 1) loss of light is unacceptable and 2 ) the overshadowing of this building by its very close nature is not acceptable.

It dumbstrucks me this day that a developer can propose such a greedy and miserable idea. The tate had a refusal and that building was across the road.

However, the plans then went to the Planning Comittee for a second and final review ( had already logged their appeal before the previous Council decision ? ) and the results will be annouced middle of June. I do not know why the Planning Commitee got involved and why the council did not have final decision ( and who knows what goes on behind close doors ) but I am asking for help from any lawyer here because there must be a legal stance that the residents can take.

The only legal points I can think of are

1) Loss of light
2) Noise is unnacceptable
3) Although this is not a council parameter when owners bought the places or anyone renting they have the right to park. At the moment parking is on a first come first served basis but the planning of the place allows for everyone to park comfortably.

However if they start building this will displace many spaces and the newly erected building will have parking for it but the net loss is 35 spaces which means that a lot of people will not be able to park.

When people bought their flats the deeds state that the parking is for the sole use of the residents - if thats the case how can they build on it ? If they alos remove the right to park for some people isn't that infringing on the initial contract. You can understand that whilst the reduction in price of your flat is not an acceptable arguement in this scenario, the loss of an intial right you had surely is.

If there is anyone who can help us or advise if we have a chance pls remit something as you can understand taking on one of Londons largest developers in court would need a vast amount of money and thats why they do these things,


Thursday 5 June 2003 4.29pm
Unfortunately, under current developmental control law, only the applicant has right of appeal. The recent review of planning by ODPM did not rectify this anomoly as far as I am aware, the argument being that an equitable appeals process that looked after both the applicant (often a big corporation) and the local community (often the little guy) would not be condusive to keeping the poor, empoverished building trade happy. There is a very useful FAQ on the planning inspectorate's website, which details the appeals process and gives other valuable information:

It sounds like its too late in your case, but if you want to support or to object to an application, you should write to the Development Control Manager quoting the application number (if known), before the council hearing. Your comments will only be taken into account when determining the application if they relate to planning matters such as amenity, privacy, design, noise, traffic, access etc. Matters such as property values and loss of view are not planning matters. If you want more details about what you can and can't do, you should have a look at the Unitary Development Plan for a general view, and also the Supplementary Planning Guidance for more specific details. Both should be on your local council's website. A final point- all letters to the councils are open to public view and cannot be treated in confidence.

The other less-than-transparent methodology which councils adopt when considering planning applications, is the decision as to whether it goes in front of a planning committee (of councillors) or not. The "simple" cases are decided by council officers under delegated authority, and it is only the big and contentious applications that go in front of a committee. However, there is no hard and fast rule that decides which are decided by committee and which by officer-only input, as far as I am aware, but I am sure if I am wrong about any of this, someone will post a correction.

hope this helps-


-MM- The Nature of Monkey was Irrepressible.
Thursday 5 June 2003 5.44pm
Have the applicants put in a revised design.

The scheme first came in last year. Mayor Ken seems to have decided that as long as he gets his extra social housing on the site, he didn't care about the neighbours.

Last July, he directed the council to refuse the scheme - but because it didn't have enough social housing, not on design grounds. He also said:

"Consideration should be given to increasing the scheme's overall density possibly including an increase in building height in order to secure more homes given the site's high public transport accessibility and the absence of townscape constraints."

Mayor's planning officer's report is at:
and the Mayor's "initial comments" to Southwark are at:
Friday 6 June 2003 8.50am

Thanks for all the info but we're past all this now, we've been trhough the plans and submissions and had the council refuse it - gr8, only to wait for the planning committeee to decide.

Are their any lawyers out there who know anything about developers building on existing resedential sights with views to suggesting laws we can use - even if we can stall the building in court by citing some law ?

Friday 6 June 2003 1.07pm
I am no lawyer, but I believe there are no rights in english law to a view. This was confirmed fairly recently (1997) by the House of Lords in passing ... as part of a case about the impact on television reception caused by the construction of Canary Wharf.

Hunter and Others v. Canary Wharf Ltd.

From Lord Lloyd of Berwick's judgement
"The house-owner who has a fine view of the South Downs may find that his neighbour has built so as to obscure his view. But there is no redress, unless, perchance, the neighbour's land was subject to a restrictive covenant in the house-owner's favour. It would be a good example of what in law is called "damnum absque injuria": a loss which the house-owner has undoubtedly suffered, but which gives rise to no infringement of his legal rights. In the absence of a restrictive covenant, there is no legal right to a view. The analogy between a building which interferes with a view and a building which interferes with television reception seems to me, as it did to the Court of Appeal, to be very close.

If one asks the more fundamental question as to why there should be no legal remedy in either case, one is taken back to the observation of Lord Hardwicke L.C. in Attorney-General v. Doughty (1752) 2 Ves. Sen. 453:

"I know no general rule of common law, which warrants that, or says, that building so as to stop another's prospect is a nuisance. Was that the case, there could be no great towns; and I must grant injunctions to all the new buildings in this town . . ."

In Dalton v. Angus (1881) 6 App.Cas. 740 at 824, Lord Blackburn put it fairly and squarely on grounds of policy:

"I think this decision, that a right of prospect is not acquired by prescription, shows that, whilst on the Balance of convenience and inconvenience, it was held expedient that the right to light, which could only impose a burthen upon land very near the house, should be protected when it had been long enjoyed, on the same ground it was held expedient that the right of prospect, which would impose a burthen on a very large and indefinite area, should not be allowed to be created, except by actual agreement."

There can be rights of light, but generally the courts will take their judgement of what is reasonable in modern times from planning standards, and most planning decisions work on the basis of whether daylighting is consistent with the standards set by the Building Research Institute.

Despite Southwark's best efforts to agree with the residents that the loss of light would be substantial, developers usually win on appeal if they can prove that the affected neighbours will still get light levels to the BRI minima - check what was in the planning appeal reports.

Edited/updated to cut back the length of the legal quote and reinstate missing final paras that quote had pasted over.

Post edited (06 Jun 03 20:05)
Friday 6 June 2003 4.01pm
Check your lease - if this says you have the right to park, and everyone else's does too, then this will be grounds for objection. However, if this right is not granted in your lease, then there is very little you can do above what has been done already.

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