Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Whickham Bank Top house

The large and as yet unfinished house near the top of Whickham Bank has been raised with Lib Dem Councillors by a large number of people recently.

The house in its current form was granted planning permission in the late 1990s and work on it began earlier this decade. It was then realised that, though the building was being constructed according to the planning permission, the design of the house meant that residents were likely to lose their privacy if the house was completed and occupied.

Gateshead Council was asked to intervene and to get changes made to the house so that the concerns of neighbouring residents could be addressed.

There is a long and difficult legal process that has to be gone through to achieve this. The process of overturning planning permission on a building that has been built to the requirements of the same planning permission is one that is rarely used.

Both the owner of the building and the Council have been involved in long discussions about a way forward. Generally speaking, the owner of the site has shown a willingness to look at the concerns that have been raised but these discussions have been protracted as attempts have been made to try and come up with a design that resolves the harm to neighbours but also acknowledges the planning permission the applicant has and his family’s requirements.

However, if these discussions do not resolve the problems, the Council will be able to issue an order requiring necessary changes to the building to be carried out. The Planning and Development Committee has given officers powers to do this. Once served the owners of the building and any other interested third parties could appeal against the order. This would likely result in a public inquiry.

The legal advice to the council is that the order would be considered more reasonably by an Inspector at a public inquiry if the Council can demonstrate they have sought to explore all options and opportunities to deal with the harm caused.

Hence the delay in bringing the matter to a conclusion. However, the Council have made it clear to the owner of the site that if a satisfactory set of proposals for the building is not reached in a reasonable timescale, the order will be issued

Gateshead News will keep you in touch with progress.

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