Fed-up neighbours see no end to Christine Ingram Gardens flats sagaBy Jennie Slevin
March 19, 2013
Exasperated neighbours say a lengthy planning saga shows no sign of ending as developers apply to remove conditions set by the council.
They fear the developers are trying to ‘bend’ planning rules to dodge an obligation to provide affordable housing in the borough.
The number of flats at the Christine Ingram Gardens site in Lakeside, Bracknell, sits at 26, the limit before developers are bound to provide affordable housing for the borough.
However, despite Bracknell Forest Council’s planning committee setting strict conditions to merge flats before building more in the roof space, work has already begun on the new homes.
Peter Salmon, agent for Cover Homes Ltd, said: “The section 73 application is in to remove the condition and if it isn’t approved then they’ll appeal.
“By the time the appeal is through the building will be over with.
“It just seems like a bit of a waste of everybody’s time and money.”
He added: “If they have to merge the two flats before building another in the roof space they’ll lose the revenue from both flats for two or three months, which to them is totally unacceptable.
“They’ve served notice on the people living in the flats and they’ll be out in two months’ time.
“Once they’re merged they will be offered the roof space flat and the merged flat.”
Those living within and near the site fear the flats may never be merged and the developers will have built additional homes without providing Bracknell Forest with affordable housing.
Mr Salmon added: “There are strict rules in place which would stop the developer doing that, they must merge the flats, but they don’t want to lose revenue by doing it before building the extra flat.”
Neighbours are also annoyed about the lack of council interference.
One man, who asked not wish to be named, said: “The council seem to be holding back with an enforcement order despite Cover Homes ignoring the conditions.”
However, planning committee chairman Councillor Colin Dudley said: “We were planning on issuing an enforcement order but as the developer has applied retrospectively to change the condition that must be dealt with first.”
The neighbour, who lives in the nearby Lakeside estate and has been fighting Cover Homes applications for six years, added: “It was very clear to us from the beginning they were building the blocks with room for dormer windows to be installed in the roof.
“Whenever they have an application turned down they continue to go ahead and apply in another way.
“You can’t blame them for not giving up but it’s the underhand and sneaky way they appear to go about things which has upset us.”
The 74-year-old added: “We’re concerned that once the flat in the roof is built they’ll keep the other two separate.”
A decision on whether to remove the planning conditions is due at the beginning of April.