Planning guidance is there to be taken
THE Pujara family’s stressful, timeconsuming and expensive experience is a perfect example of the problems which can be created by the disconnect between departments at the council (“Mayor wades in over ‘David v Goliath’ debate”, Leicester Mercury, May 13).
Leicester Green Party has been working hard to try and get the council to review this case, although our power as a party in opposition is limited.
We have also highlighted the wider problem, that while we are being encouraged to use our bikes to travel, there is a massive shortage of safe and convenient storage across Leicester in residential areas, at schools, workplaces, surgeries and in the city centre.
We’ve also been trying for several years now to persuade the mayor and his team to work across departments: we need decisions which impact on public health, congestion, air pollution, transport and planning to be linked up, but are they listening? Again and again, we see the same silo working.
For example, at this very time, one department is apparently busy creating additional car parking spaces at St Matthew’s estate, while at the same time another is trying to reduce the illegal levels of air pollution there.
In the “shedgate” case, the mayor says officials were “wrong” to follow current rules. Really? Planners were following rules as set out by the council, so if those rules are not fit for purpose, who is responsible but the mayor and his team?
They know there is a need for planning guidance for safe cycle storage, but have not issued it. Comprehensive, enforceable guidance would protect the character of residential areas, allow many more families to construct safe storage for cycling, and free up hard pressed planning officers and planning committees to get on with other work, instead of having to threaten families with legal action.
The city council don’t even need to draft guidance themselves, but could amend similar guidance available across the UK.
For example, in February we wrote to assistant mayor Councillor Adam Clarke to make the council aware the Scottish government had already consulted on and issued new guidance on this very issue. The Permitted Development Rights consultation analysis offers guidance setting out to promote cycling and healthy travel and recommends the following measures:
■ Allow cycle storage sheds in the front gardens of houses.
■ Allow cycle storage sheds in private garden areas of flats.
■ Extend the size of storage sheds allowed in conservation areas.
■ Allow communal cycle stores to the rear of blocks of flats, in the grounds of commercial, business and industrial buildings and on the street.
The mayor and his team have consistently been warned that such a situation of conflicting priorities happens all of the time in Leicester and will happen again, and it is their job, as our political leaders, to be proactive and pre-empt such problems.
With a monopoly on power in Leicester though, will they ever change?
Mags Lewis, on behalf of Leicester Green Party