Council urges minister to grant stronger powers to tackle inconsiderate developers and building contractors
Published: Friday 16th March 18
Developers and builders who cause problems for their neighbours could soon face tougher sanctions if a Government minister backs proposals laid out by Wandsworth’s planning spokesman Cllr William Sweet.
Cllr Sweet has today (Friday) written to housing and communities secretary Sajid Javid calling on him to give councils greater powers to tackle developers and their contractors who cause upset and inconvenience to residents living near to their development sites.
The types of behaviour include noisy working beyond permitted hours, careless and thoughtless parking of lorries and equipment, obstructing pavements and failing to clear up dust and concrete spillages outside their construction sites.
In his letter to the Secretary of State Cllr Sweet writes: “I am writing to ask you to enhance the powers available to Wandsworth and other local authorities to help hold developers and construction companies to account once they have signed a Construction Management Plan.
“In Wandsworth there is a significant amount of exciting development and regeneration happening to enable us to deliver London-leading numbers of new homes, including new affordable homes. We want developers to work even harder to minimise disruption for neighbours during construction.
“We champion considerate construction in Wandsworth. Development needs to work for existing residents too if we are to retain their trust and support for building new homes. We are proud that here in Wandsworth most developments proceed without disruption to neighbours, through good use of Construction Management Plans, strong dialogue with developers and ongoing communication with residents.
“However, in a handful of recent cases, our residents have had a less satisfactory experience from developers that have breached the construction conditions that the Council negotiated so hard to protect neighbours.
“In common with all local authorities, Wandsworth has only very modest powers to sanction these rare but disruptive developments. It takes time to issue a Breach of Condition Notice, which takes a further four weeks to come into effect. In the case of further breaches, local authorities can only pursue a prosecution through the Magistrates’ Court, with a maximum fine of £5,000. The alternative is to issue a Stop Notice on an entire development, which is usually disproportionate.
“Existing planning enforcement powers are plainly unsuitable to deter breaches of planning conditions. We therefore ask you and your team at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to explore further options to help local authorities like Wandsworth deal with non-compliant construction activities.”
Speaking later Cllr Sweet added: "Most developers are conscious of their responsibilities towards their neighbours and do their best to avoid causing unnecessary disturbance and disruption.
“However some do not show enough care and consideration for the communities in which they are working and these are the cases where we feel additional powers would be helpful.
“At the moment the main tools we have to tackle poor working practices are either blunt or simply take too long to bring into effect. The only other sanction we have is to issue a stop notice which is akin to taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut and so we think different powers that provide quick and simple sanctions with enough teeth to get developers to respond positively is the way forward.
“I hope the secretary of state listens to what we are saying and agrees to have a fresh look at this issue.”