Planners are slow to act in challenge to fast food smells
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.