Arun District Council serve legal notices on Alan, Pier Road Resident

Pier Road’s most eccentric resident has come under attack from the bureaucrats at Arun District Council.

Ms Samantha Allen, Planning Compliance & Monitoring Investigator has written to Alan advising him that his eccentric, colourful home in Pier Road is adversely affecting the neighbourhood.

She further states that Alan’s colourful property in Pier Road may encourage ‘anti-social behaviour.’

Quirky Houses

 

And it’s not just the condition of Alan’s property that has encouraged the wrath of Ms Allen’s bureaucratic pen, she also demands to know why Alan has a toy Dalmatian and Mannequin on display at his property.

“I would ask that you provide an explanation for the unusual items on display i.e. the toy Dalmatian dog hanging out of a first floor window and the mannequin in the top floor window.”

“I should advise you that failure to comply with this request will leave the council to consider action pursuant to Sections 215-219 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended).

Samantha Allen,

Arun District Council

In her letter dated 24th March 2015, Ms Allen highlights the fact that Pier Road has had new footpaths outside the shops and properties, resurfacing to the road that ‘matches the colour of the new boardwalk’ and basically says – Alan’s property no longer fits in with the new, regenerated Pier Road.

Double standards, of course.

The pavement that Ms Allen refers to in her letter has been completed to such a poor standard that West Sussex County Council Highways have served legal notices on their contractors to remedy their poor work. In fact,one of the reasons why I still cannot re-carpet  my shop, and paint the outside is that we’re still waiting for the Council’s contractors to re-do the substandard work on the pavements outside our doors.

A fact, which has been completely overlooked by Ms Allen.

Neither has the Environment Agency completed their promised ‘post works condition survey works’ for properties in Pier Road affected by the flood defence works. The whole thing has turned into such a bureaucratic saga that I’ve told the Environment Agency that we’ll get on with our improvements without further delay.

Alan and his neighbours have complained about cracks in their walls, which they attribute to the flood defence works, yet they’ve been mostly ignored by the authorities, apart from Ms Allen’s letter.

Readers of my blog and those who follow @pier_road twitter feed will know of the battles I’ve had to get Arun District Council to undertake regular and competent cleaning of Pier Road and the seafront area.

Not to mention the blindingly obvious fact that Arun District Council have an appalling track record maintaining our local features.

Littehampton’s Oyster Pond is a good example of Arun’s ‘Cash and Grab’ philosophy.

Littlehampton Oyster PondIf you don’t know the feature – the Oyster Pond is one of Littlehampton’s oldest features, if not thee oldest. Build in the 1870s as storage area for seafood, hence the name – Oyster Pond. It was used to save boats the long sail up to Arundel, which was the main market town for the area. The Victorians then used it as a boating lake and even had an annual swimming gala there. The Pond itself is a marvel of engineering – being filled from the River Arun via underground chambers and pipes.

Arun District CouncilToday, the Oyster pond is in a sorry state of disrepair as Arun District Council have continually refused to invest in it’s upkeep. The sides of the pond are in a poor and dilapidated stated, the bottom leaks and without the substantial funding now needed to regenerate this feature, it’s unlikely that future generations will be able to enjoy it as we have.

Arun District Council

The steps leading into the Oyster Pond are in an appalling state. Ten years ago when I was the concession holder for the Oyster Pond, I proposed substantive restoration for the pond. Arun frustrated my efforts to make improvements, so I left it to them.

Since then, to the best of my knowledge, Arun have made no structural improvements to the Oyster Pond.

Arun’s Concession holders, Mike and Lisa run the pedal boats on the Oyster Pond and do a splendid job with them. However, the pond’s structure is in need of urgent attention something which Arun District Council steadfastly refuse to do.

Far easier to fire off threatening legal letters to a local character about the state of his property than address their own serious failings.

Arun’s Seafront car parks are another example of the council’s lack of ongoing preventive maintenance and upkeep. Despite charging top rates for seafront car parking, Arun infrequently cut the grass.

Arun District Counci Car parking

Seafront car park resembles more of a builder’s yard than a welcoming seafront car park.

Arun District Council Car Park

How can anyone claim the above surface is suitable for a car park? Arun do and when I complained, refused to accept that the above muddy surface was in any way dangerous.

Arun District Council leisure strategy

When I confronted Nigel Lynn at Arun District Council about the state of the seafront car parks, the official reply was that the state of their car parks presented no potential dangers, and Arun confirmed they don’t as a matter of course carry out any annual risk assessments on their car parks.

In my view, they should.

But far from addressing their own failings, easier to try and portray a man who has a sense of humour as being some sort of public enemy.

Laughable to suggest that Alan’s dog is likely to bring the area in disrepute and may increase and lead to anti-social behaviour.

quirky house Pier Road

Amazingly, Samantha Allen, Arun District Council’s Planning and Compliance and Monitoring Investigator demands to know why Alan has a toy dog hanging from outside his property, but when travellers illegally encamped on our seafront a couple of years ago, damaging fencing, ploughing up the ground with children riding motorbikes on the promenade and greensward – Arun District Council did nothing.

When I complained about District Council’s lack of enforcement action to Nigel Croad, Deputy Chief Executive at Arun District Council, he told me that he had to consider the welfare of his own officers who would not therefore be confronting anti-social behaviour.

Travellers Littlehampton seafront update 3

The above anti-social behaviour went unchecked by Arun District Council while they busied themselves undertaking ‘welfare checks’.

Ship Wreck Littlehampton Arts Festival 2

Yet this gentleman who has done much to help many good local causes has been targeted by Arun District Council as being someone whose property is likely to cause anti-social behaviour

Arun District Council building 1

Of course when it comes to ‘poorly maintained buildings’, Arun District Council are no strangers.

The above picture is of Arun District Council’s housing office located adjacent to Littlehampton Town Council’s chambers. Arun allowed the building to fall into a poor state of repair, boarding up broken windows and doors and leaving this eyesore for a number of years before the town council purchased the building and demolished it.

Arun-20130305-00233On the left hand side of the above picture is Arun District Council’s offices, on the right the Town Council’s offices and home to Littlehampton Millennium Chambers.

I had been to three civil ceremonies at the Town Council’s beautifully presented Millennium Chambers and on each occasion, guests remarked at the appalling state of Arun’s building and how it let down an otherwise perfect venue.

Arun District Council were content to let their own poorly maintained and presented offices become a blight on Littlehampton’s landscape, until such time as the Town Council purchased the dilapidated buildings from them, demolished them making way for a lovely remembrance garden.

While I agree entirely it’s vital that business owners and property owners in Pier Road and Littlehampton present their buildings in such a way as to assist regenerating the area. I have some difficulty in accepting that Arun District Council are the ones to enforce change.

Far be it for them to lead by example and if letters are necessary, write without the threats. Far better to create a climate of enthusiasm and mutual co-operation rather than hitting a well-meaning, much loved local character over the head with threats of legal action.

As always, thanks for reading. Your comments are welcome.

Don’t forget to follow the blog on twitter @pier_road

 

Paul

 

 

 

11 thoughts on “Arun District Council serve legal notices on Alan, Pier Road Resident

  1. I thought the new ‘chip shop road’ was pretty well done. Two comments, the landscaping was rather minimal and unexciting, maybe it will grow; and the road was already blocked by parked cars causing people to drive on the new pavements. Maybe it should be one way, maybe they should have made it wider, probably they should put up no parking signs. It’ll be chaos in the summer if they don’t.
    Keep up the good work.
    Jon Darling

  2. ok within five minutes of moving into new home october 2013 i met with new neighbours omg id just come from anti social behaviour wscc contracter on putting in droped kerb was faced with horrendous abuse reported into police who over 12 months acted signs etc i paid for my droped kerb £1200 pounds without i couldnt move here family lent me the money which over monthsi paid back dla money given to me for care ! not improvements adc property a further £120 pounds paid white lines still drive got blocked at christmas time lewis police had me on 999 call for my own safety 18 months ive spoken to no one and yet when i moved here the lady adc said i hope they leave you alone other side to me lovely people 36 years in angmering forced too leave he in remission cancer im under specialist care too on same drugs as cancer leukimia patients they could take no more 5 years of anti social behaviour forced them out adc did nothing i cannot beleive the hell i still endure under these who let a second lot dish out too me ive not even spoken central goverment made me aware adc lies wscc louise goldsmith has offered an apology too me as discovered my ot report 2012 wscc heard no more from adc 18 months ago as im under vunerable disabled remit adc housing officer should have come out they took me from a property with wet room to a bath no power points my family have had to do it all wscc are offering me help to get over 5 years of misery no right to cook a meal independently ignored medics since 2010 i cant stress enough the blatant incompetance in august 2014 neighbours from hell erected a porch over public access so my home windows cant be cleaned it was determined a breach of planning nothing has been done so i say leave this man alone and look at what you caused it sits next door too me breach of planning and anti social and thats ok typical adc the incompetance has too stop

  3. I’ve had a look at the Arun Council constitution and it seems that the Assistant Director of planning and economic regeneration has the delegated power for ‘the serving of any formal notice and related authority actions including direct action or any determination not to take action as not being expedient to do so in the public interest, under the terms of the following primary legislation’ which includes sections 215 – 219 town and county planning act 1990. However it goes on to say ‘prior to the service of any notice requiring corrective action by the recipient of the notice, the local ward member shall be informed of the proposed action’. As you have only reprinted part of the letter I’m guessing that this is a letter prior to an official notice, as I hope that any reasonable authority would try and open a dialogue over concerns before taking any drastic action. I would also hope that any reasonable authority would also have notified the local councillors in the area in the spirit of the councils constitution and it would be interesting to hear what they have to say on the matter. On the substance I have no problem at all with the figures adorning the property, eccentricity is far more interesting conformity as I am sure anybody who has been round some of the new estates will testify to. I also feel there are properties in the vicinity in a worse state of decorative repair, many places could do with a lick of paint however in many cases it is finance which is the problem. I don’t have any idea whether there are any structural issues to deal with. I hope that Alan has somebody able to give him legal and technical advice on the substance of the issues in the letter. What I would urge everybody to do is to e-mail planning@arun.gov.uk for the attention of Samantha Allen and ask that in view of the public interest in this issue and the likelihood of public resistance to any ill – judged enforcement action in this case any further steps towards enforcement action in this case should not be taken until the matter has been considered by elected councillors for decision. I am just about to send mine now. Derrick.

  4. I thought it would be helpful to print the e-mail I sent to Samantha Allen, and the very quick and constructive response. Derrick.

    Dear Samantha,

    I am mailing you regarding the letter sent by yourself to a resident in Pier Road threatening enforcement action over various concerns about the appearance of his property.

    As I am sure that you know this issue has come under considerable scrutiny on both social media, the local press and in discussion between Littlehampton residents. In particular I am sure that you might want to read the ‘Pier Road Diaries’ Blog and the substantive piece on this issue.

    My concerns are that I find nothing in the legislation (sections 215 to 219 of the town and county planning act 1990) to justify asking for an explanation for the dog and mannequin on display. Seaside towns have a rich history of eccentricity and I’m sure that we do not want the bland conformity which blights so many new housing developments. I hope that this is a letter written prior to any formal action being considered and is a letter seeking to open discussion and constructive dialogue. I hope that you have considered whether or not the resident concerned has the recourse to facilities to enable him to take legal advice and technical advice on the issues raised and I hope that local councillors have been consulted.

    In light of the fact that in my view any move to commence formal proceedings is likely to mean significant public protest and concern as a resident of Arun District I would ask that if you consider any steps towards enforcement action the matter be put before elected councillors for decision and not taken under delegated powers. In that way the public interest can be properly considered.

    Many thanks, Derrick Chester,

    Dear Mr Chester

    Thank you for your email below concerning one of the addresses I have written to in Pier Road.

    I did write to two residential addresses and so far six commercial properties in Pier Road asking that they all undertake various types of maintenance to their properties. With regard to the property you are referring to I asked the owner to repair and repaint his windows (if they were not going to be replaced) and to repaint the peeling render. I did ask for an explanation for the unusual items on display but I have not asked for them to be removed, I was simply asking for an explanation so that I had all of the necessary information to decide whether or not this should be pursued. I believe I was justified in asking this question as to ignore the items on display, but still make reference to the poor condition of the windows and render, would not in the future lead to a fully informed decision being made.

    My letter did indeed prompt a number of conversations with the owner and I have stressed to him that his property is not being treated in isolation. I have also assured him that, as it states in my letter, the serving of a formal notice is a course of action that the Council would wish to avoid if at all possible. Arun District Council has received a positive response to its use of Section 215 powers to date and a number of properties across the district have been improved. Almost all of these improvements have occurred following discussions with owners and this will continue to be the main focus of my approach.

    If and when any formal serving of notices is required I will discuss with my Senior Managers what route should be taken, having regard to your comments, so a decision will not be taken in isolation.

    Thank you for your interest in this matter. If you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact me.

    Yours sincerely

    Samantha Allen

  5. Hi Heather,

    Apologies for the delay in replying. I haven’t spoken to Alan for a while but caught up with him today. He reports that the council have left him alone and he’s heard nothing from then since. As I understand it, they haven’t written to him again.

    Kind regards

    Paul

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