Plan­ners are slow to act in chal­lenge to fast food smells

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY - Jonathon Wing­field

Q: A few years ago I con­verted three ter­raced Vic­to­rian houses into apart­ments. They are Grade II listed and are close to the cen­tre of town.

I have been told by all my ten­ants who have apart­ments fac­ing the rear that they can no longer open their win­dows be­cause of the smells from a me­chan­i­cal ex­trac­tor serv­ing an ad­ja­cent fast food shop.

No-one re­ceived any no­tice from the coun­cil re­gard­ing the new shop and the plan­ners have con­firmed that the ex­trac­tor is classed as unau­tho­rised devel­op­ment.

They have writ­ten to the fast food owner re­quest­ing a ret­ro­spec­tive plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion.

Noth­ing has hap­pened for weeks and now that sum­mer is ap­proach­ing I am concerned that I will lose some of my ten­ants. What can I do? A: To many peo­ple it of­ten ap­pears that Lo­cal Au­thor­i­ties move very slowly. In the first in­stance I sug­gest con­tact­ing the plan­ners to get some ba­sic timescales for deal­ing with this mat­ter be­fore they take any en­force­ment ac­tion. It is likely that the fast food owner is em­ploy­ing some de­lay­ing tac­tics and has no in­ten­tion of seek­ing per­mis­sion.

Once you have these timescales, pester the coun­cil with tele­phone calls and letters.

I am quite sure that you will be con­sulted on the ret­ro­spec­tive ap­pli­ca­tion.

En­sure that both you and all of your ten­ants sub­mit for­mal letters of ob­jec­tion clearly stat­ing your rea­sons.

These al­ways carry more weight if writ­ten in­di­vid­u­ally and not copies of one stan­dard re­sponse.

If all else fails, you may have to lobby your lo­cal ward councillor to in­ter­vene.

While the Lo­cal Plan­ning Depart­ment has de­manded a ret­ro­spec­tive ap­pli­ca­tion, do you know if they’re minded to grant a con­sent or not?

If they do, you will be in an even worse po­si­tion be­cause the ven­ti­la­tion sys­tem caus­ing the prob­lem will then be le­gal.

Lo­cal Au­thor­i­ties are loath to push peo­ple out of busi­ness, there­fore tak­ing a more proac­tive role may help.

Get some ex­pert ad­vice about odour-free ex­trac­tion and sug­gest the plan­ners im­pose an ap­pro­pri­ate con­di­tion to any ap­proval.

This seems to be more than a straight­for­ward plan­ning is­sue and it may also be worth­while talk­ing to your so­lic­i­tor about the law of nui­sance, par­tic­u­larly if there are fi­nan­cial im­pli­ca­tions.

Jonathon Wing­field is a part­ner at Acan­thus WSM Ar­chi­tects in Leeds.

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