by Ray George

The big event for this conservation area, since the last Newsletter, has been the consultation on the new Article 4 Direction. Thirty five people made representations and thirty four were objections. As a result, in the report to Cabinet, members were told that “on the front and side elevation” would be added to the three paragraphs on porches, hard surfaces and chimneys etc. There was however no movement on buildings, such as sheds etc.

So I thought that I should ask to speak at the Cabinet when it met on 20th December. I had also prepared a sheet of paper for each cabinet member. Immediately after I had spoken, the Conservation Officer, Kevin White, was asked to reply. Needless to say, what I had said was knocked down. I had expected a discussion by the Cabinet, but to my surprise, nobody said a word. It appears this is how Cabinet works. Each member has a portfolio and makes the decision. For this, the decision belongs to the Leader, Councillor Letts. He said he would confirm the Article 4 Direction, but it could be amended. He also said I could have a meeting with him and the head of legal services.

So recently, I and another Committee member, Anne Dempsey, went to the Civic Centre. Councillor Letts came and collected us from Reception and took us to a room where the two other people present were the Conservation Officer, Kevin White, and the Legal Officer, Aicha Laroussi who is dealing with the Article 4 Direction. Simon Letts said he proposed to go though the points I had presented to Cabinet and as a result of which there had been amendments. The first was a purely technical one, namely to delete paragraph (b). The second was the paragraph on buildings e.g. sheds. I presented my proposals, but Councillor Letts said he was advised by his Conservation Officer; it was needed to control inappropriate development and any change was refused. To help preserve the privet hedges, an amendment would be made in respect of fences in front gardens. I said the proposed amendment was too wide, and after some discussion, I believe the amendment will be “on the front and side elevation”. No other suggestions for amendments were accepted. I learnt that the Secretary of State will be asked to modify the Article 4 Direction.

As you will all be aware the Article 4 Direction says:
DEVELOPMENT FOR WHICH PLANNING PERMISSION WILL NOW BE REQUIRED
(e) The provision, within the curtilage of a dwellinghouse of a building, enclosure, swimming or other pool required for a purpose incidental to the enjoyment of the dwelling house…

But in the report to Cabinet it says:
“Permission is not, and has never been required for the erection of a garden shed.” You may think that this is simply a blatant lie. As a law abiding citizen, you read the Article 4 Direction, see that you need Planning Permission and apply for it. Fortunately, there will be no fee for this. You may not realise that it is not an offence to carry out such development without planning permission. You are unlikely to get far, if you start to build a house without planning permission, but you are being told you are pretty safe, if you build a shed. You will however be in breach of Planning Control. You are unlikely to have those awfully nice people from the Council’s Enforcement Service banging on your door, if there is no significant harm to amenity. The Council has a policy on planning enforcement, see
www.southampton.gov.uk/moderngov/documents/s22909/

Please share your experiences about Planning, or if you have not already done so, your representation on the Article 4 Direction, by emailing them to us.

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