Saturday, 28 November 2020

Developer investigated for unauthorised building work

A DEVELOPER is being investigated for allegedly breaching planning permission and health and safety laws.

South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, is carrying out a planning enforcement and building control investigation into a development in Bird in Hand Lane, Sonning Common.

Manjit Singh is building two houses but neighbours complained that an extra storey was being built on one of the properties without permission.

The residents have also contacted the Health and Safety Executive, claiming that:

l Workmen on the site were not wearing hard hats.

l There were no sanitary facilities.

l The road was blocked by delivery vehicles for more than eight hours at a time.

l Scaffolding was too close to overhead power cables.

Mr Singh, of Hounslow, has stopped work on the extra storey and plans to submit a new planning application.

The residents also raised their concerns at a meeting of Sonning Common Parish Council.

Deputy clerk Ros Varnes said: “The residents have been very concerned about the manner of the construction of these dwellings. I spoke with the planning enforcement officer who confirmed the construction of the dwelling was in breach.

“The plans allow for a single-storey extension at the back but it seems a two-storey extension is being constructed. It looks like the roof has already begun being constructed.

“The enforcement officer has given them two options — take down the extension or submit a new application with the changes. There is no mention of stopping the work until the matter has been resolved.

“I understand there is no lavatory on site and the workmen are using neighbouring hedges and gardens. The back of the property looks very untidy.”

Andrew Green, of Bird in Hand Lane, said he had reported the developer to the Health and Safety Executive and asked the district council for an enforcement officer to visit the site.

Shaun Gibson, of Kennylands Road, said his home was now overlooked due to the extra storey. “When planning permission was granted a condition was set on the windows in the main roof,” he said.

“By putting this extra storey on the building at the back of the house the builder has moved the window from the original building plan to closer to my boundary. It’s a monstrosity.”

Councillor Stan Rust, chairman of the parish council’s planning committee, said: “This is another case where they are modifying their plans then trying to justify it retrospectively.

“They also seem to be doing badly on health and safety aspects. We have got to take action against the developers by writing to the district council.”

Councillor Douglas Kedge said: “Our real concern is the district council will give permission retrospectively. The letter should be in the strongest possible terms.”

Planning permission was granted on appeal in 2015 despite opposition from residents.

Planning inspector Gareth Williams, who granted the appeal, imposed a condition requiring the development to be carried out in accordance with the submitted plans “for the avoidance of doubt and in the interests of proper planning”.

Mr Singh’s planning agent Steve Gourcutt, of Skerryvore Designs, said the developer now intended to submit a new application to include the extra floor.

He said: “They wanted to put the extra room on there and were going to do this under permitted development rights.

“They have now stopped the work and they are putting in a fresh application. They intend to put this in so they can retain the work that has been done.”

A spokeswoman for the Health and Safety Executive said: “HSE has received complaints about health and safety at the site and is investigating what evidence there is of poor standards. We cannot comment further at this time.”

A district council spokesman said “A new development in Bird in Hand Lane, Sonning Common, was granted planning permission following an appeal in 2015.

“However, a two-storey extension has now also been built at this site without the additional required planning permission. 

“We are therefore investigating a breach of planning control.”

Meanwhile, the district council is monitoring another development in Woodlands Road, Sonning Common, which the parish council reported for also breaching planning conditions.

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