Street Fighter

In our recent interview with Cllr Alexander, we discussed planning enforcement on our main streets, using the case of Speedicars on Coulgate Street as an example. She promised to look in to the case and keep readers informed, which she has. Here's what she's found out, so far:

Following receipt of three separate complaints a letter was sent to the occupier of 6 Coulgate Road (trading as Speedicars) on 14th May explaining that an illuminated fascia sign and a new shop front, both recently installed would require consent. The premises lie within the Brockley Conservation Area.

A written response was received on 21st May from a Director of Speedicars indicating that, as he understood, the Council had previously granted permission for the shopfront and the sign is a like for like replacement.

The council wrote back on 29th May stating that records do not indicate that any permission was sought let alone approved. The relevant forms were enclosed with the council's response requesting that the necessary submissions be made by mid June.

On receipt of the letter the Director then telephoned asking for an extra 4 weeks to put together an application. The planners agreed to this.

This means we can expect a formal application in mid-July. Given that it seems a clear breach of planning rules, we struggle to imagine on what basis it would succeed, and we hope the Council team work with Speedicars to find a more appropriate solution.

We hope that the combination of the residents' protests and the fact it's on the Councillor's radar will have a Double Impact and that the lopsided plastic sign will receive its Death Warrant soon. But it has proved a Hard Target thus far.

With thanks to Luc Deveraux.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

Knocking Speedicars has become a bit of Bloodsport for some but in this instance I feel it's The Quest we should all take on. If we adopt a No Retreat No Surrender policy Speedicars will have Nowhere To Run and it will only be a matter of Time (Cop) before that sign goes A.W.O.L. If there is a Maximum Risk then it's only that the sign they replace it with is some kind of Knock Off but as long as The Order to take the sign down is in place then the Double Impact of Dandelion and Broca won't be diminished for people getting off the train, and coulgate street's regeneration won't get Derailed. Alternatively an Inferno could sort all this mess out but that would be a Wrong Bet and possible leave a Wake Of Death.

As for alternative signage logo -how about a Black Eagle?

Dave Cyborg.

Headhunter said...

Good. I hope this sends a signal to other traders and people living in the cons area. Equally the council needs to take notice and enforce some of its own rules in the cons area. It shouldn't take pressure from residents, it should be automatic.

patrick1971 said...

I suppose the good thing about this story is that Speedicars at least wants to do the right thing; they thought they had approval, and they're putting together an application. I wonder how they thought they had approval; I bet some council type just said to them, "oh, it'll be fine, like-for-like" or something like that.

I agree with headhunter that it shouldn't need residents' intervention to make the council enforce its own rules, but I guess that the council probably just doesn't have enough staff to do regular street patrols, so it's up to us as good citizens to let them know of any breaches.

Brockley Nick said...

Well put cd, the lesson I draw from all this is don't hunt what you can't kill.

Anonymous said...

Sure, but if it bleeds you can kill it.

brockley mutha said...

'they thought they had approval' - yeah right!

Anonymous said...

The council are just very slow to respond to even the most blatant law-breaking - for example a few weeks ago I reported to them that two caravans had set up home on Malpas Road for over a month (now two). They're on supports (not wheels) and one has mains electricity running across the pavement and gas cannisters attached to it (hence my bringing it to their attention). The council made their usual noises about sending some 'enforcement' officers down and then...nothing happens and the caravans stay there, a potential safety hazard and blocking off about 6 parking spaces... What can you do?
JS

The Brockley Telegraph said...

complain again. Shout louder, ask to speak to a manager when you ring them up. The first layer of 'handlers' are not normally worth dealing with.

lb said...

Presumably they thought they had approval because conservation area consent had been sought and granted for the overall development as long ago as 2006 - Council officers will have already looked at the site.

It's not really surprising that they thought they would be allowed to re-use the sign; they may even have been told that they were allowed to do so.

Headhunter said...

Seriously? Some "travellers" have just set up caravans on the side of the road for 2 months and the council/police have done diddly squat? What a joke! They seriously need to re consider their list of priorities!

Do dah said...

Wow you can really push it Lewisham it seems, so people can just set up home in a caravan on the street with energy supplies. It's a wonder they didn't set up on Hilly Fields there's great views there...

lb said...

Unless they've somehow managed to get into the public electricity supply (inadvisable to try if you want to stay alive) then I suppose the electricity supply is coming from one of the houses on the road, which in itself suggests that the caravan is either a) there with the permission of the owner of the house or b) actually owned by the owner of the house.

Perhaps there's some building work going on in the house itself?

Anonymous said...

I'm sure they are there with the permission of the owner, but it doesn't make it any less illegal - you simply cannot caravan on the street. If nothing else the safety risks presented by two gas cannisters lying in the road/pavement mean the council should do something. I'll have another go.... JS

Anonymous said...

Yes you can really push it in Lewisham. I live in the conservation area and the flat next to me is occupied by "Unauthorised Tenants". Thats Lewisham Council speak for squatters. They had a notice to quit in 2005 but the council have not followed up or enforced it, in any way. And the squatter is renting out the other rooms. According to the council spokesman "You would be amazed at the amount of unauthorised tenants we have in the Conservation area" Amazed? Apoplectic, more like - the council has a need for social housing but is not removing "unauthorised tenants"...yes priorities are messed up

The Brockley Telegraph said...

free riding on electrical supply or other services is a known issue by the large utility companies. There is a shocking statistic that on average, one or two houses per street are actually free-riding. They don't have the means to actually enforce it (all it takes is a householder to dig up the road in front-takes about half a day) but instead they factor that in the cost in the premium paying customers are charged. Lack of community values in afraid, for some people its each for their own.

Anonymous said...

What do you know about community? You've ostracized most of yours.

Do dah said...

So the squatter is renting out something he/she doesn't even own, what chutzpah!

Rather like one of those private equity players. He/she is leveraging value from a 'borrowed' asset.

tyrwhitt michael said...

I'll admit to a bit of sympathy for Speedicars. After all they have been in Coulgate Street considerably longer than Coulgate Street has been in the conservation area.

I have also nothing against recycling. My understanding was that they were only in this office until the one over the road was redeveloped and then they would move back there. Seem pointless wasting the earth's resources on a temporary sign.

Brockley Nick said...

Tm, their old building's redevelopment is on hold (there's an article about it on the site) so they are there indefinitely. Even if they just took down the sticky-outy sign that would be a pretty good start.

tyrwhitt michael said...

I was going to say that I must have missed that story, but then I realised I had commented on it!

Short term memory loss.

I must admit my post was somewhat tongue in cheek as I never walk past there....

Rather Lewisham centric my end of Brockley.

Do dah said...

I don't have much sympathy for Speedicars, because everyone can come up with a reason for breaking the rules. The rules are there for a reason. It's to make Brockley a better place, and as for the sign and recycling, (call me cynical but they seem to be playing the green card) that sign is illuminated, so getting them to change it should reduce the use of electricity. So that arguement doesn't sway me.

The Brockley Telegraph said...

I still think its about precendence. I'm quite interested to see spedycars response, will they argue their case or cave in? placing bets now: 50:50

Anonymous said...

no wonder you work 60+hrs a week. You're always on here boring us with you skewed view of the world.

Anonymous said...

Westside cafe anyone, anyone, Bueller?

Moira said...

Re caravan in street. If the electricity cables are running across the road, you might want to let the Council know that if you trip on them you will be suing the Council as you had already informed them of the H&S hazard.

Re gas canisters on street - a call to your local fire station notifying them of of a potential dangerous hazard (For mobile homes, all gas canisters must be secured and cannot be tampered with.)

Invoking H&S legislation often works as it is the only instance in law where one is guilty until proven innocent.

Anonymous said...

@ Do Dah - doesn't even own, doesn't even pay rent for, doesn't even pay taxes for.

Seems Lewisham council have a real problem with enforcement. When I saw the case officer, they admitted that it 'just hasn't been followed up' and that it wasn't to do with manpower, resources or anything else - just neglect. I'd love to have some SLAs on this sort of thing with Lewisham, I mean why bother to serve the notice if you are not going to follow up for over 3 years?

do dah said...

Oh dear, the story just gets worse. You actually took time out to speak to a caseworker and still nothing has been done?

"it 'just hasn't been followed up' and that it wasn't to do with manpower, resources or anything else - just neglect"

It seems that Lewisham council is a somewhat dysfunctional organisation. But they are very efficient in obtaining council tax payments.

Anonymous said...

...and service charges from leaseholders sharing buildings with squatters

Brockley Jon said...

Speaking of street signs, has anyone seen the signage of the new Ladbrokes on Lewisham Way? I think it's an improvement on the previous E Coombes Turf Accountant shop front, and better than the average, but I do wish it could have been more inkeeping with the fantastic building that the shop is part of.

Sadly I think that bit, being on the other side of Lewisham Way to Brockley, is not in the conservation area.

Headhunter said...

They certainly are very good at getting money. When I 1st moved to Brockley, I paid my 1st council tax installment online, however I entered the wrong account number and although it went to Lewisham BC, it didn't go into the right account.

They very quickly sent me red bills, but I was away. They finally actually phoned me on a Saturday morning to find out what was going on! They PHONED me!

Since then, any time I have tried to contact them as mentioned before, mostly online, I haven't received responses

Headhunter said...

I think I might opt out of society, stick a caravan on Manor Ave and refuse to pay bills, I may even get ill and get assigned social housing next door to my current flat - the key to mortgage freedom!

Anonymous said...

Well Lewisham are not that good at collecting money. I tried twice using their automated payment system, then tried via their website. Finally I gave up waiting for them to answer the phone. They just don't seem to want my council tax.

The Brockley Telegraph said...

Can i have it?

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