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time limits for council action.

Discussion in 'Building Regulations and Planning Permission' started by diyeric, 26 Jul 2019.

  1. diyeric

    diyeric

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    A family member recently purchased a grade 11 flat, in the planning office archived files of 20 yrs ago photos of the flat/house can be found which shows the house was fitted with upvc windows. Also in the same file there are later letters to conveyancing solicitors stating there are no outstanding planning matters to our knowledge. The planning officers and conservation officers of 20 yrs ago must have consider no action was necessary.
    One of the other flat dwellers recently inquired about another matter involving a site visit from a conservation officer who spotted the upvc windows and threats of lawfulness, fines or even imprisonment started to arrive. To keep the council happy and to abide by the law that states present owners of listed property are for the time being custodians of national heritage, planning and conservation application have been made and permission granted to replace the UPVC windows with sash windows hand made to fit the window openings. As you can imagine at great expense.
    The council have been contacted to ask why they did not act twenty years ago, why wait to now, but the answers are vague. My contention is, this is a council failing to act appropriately at the time they knew of the UPVC windows, but they imply they can take for ever to act.
    Can any one shed a light on time limits please I am wondering if its worth getting the ombudsman involved.

    Eric
     
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  3. ^woody^

    ^woody^

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    No enforcement time limits for breaches of listed building consent, and the ombudsman would need to see actual maladministration for you to succeed with a complaint.

    The burning question would be why this never came to light at the time of the conveyance? Plastic windows in a listed building is never something to be unquestioned.

    Your reference to "no outstanding planning matters" needs to be clarified. I take this to mean that there are no current enforcement issues at the time the question was asked.
     
  4. bernardgreen

    bernardgreen

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    If the windows were already PVC on the date and time that building was listed then changing them to wooden windows would be illegal.

    If that is the case and you can prove the fact with documents or photos of the PVC windows that can be dated as being taken before the data of listing then PVC windows can stay. There may be manufacturer's date codes on the windows.
     
  5. tony1851

    tony1851

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    If there are photos in their file, is it possible that these were taken at the time of listing? (that's usual practice when a building is newly-listed).
    If that's the case, Bernard will be correct.
    Why did you not query this before having the replacement windows made?
     
  6. bernardgreen

    bernardgreen

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    This site will tell you what the listed building is listed as if you enter the post code. https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/

    The image if any may be much later than the listing date, my cottage was listed in 1987 but the image was taken in 2001.
     
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  8. diyeric

    diyeric

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    Thanks all for your replies, I hope this answers the questions you have raised. I have researched the history of this building, the building was bombed during ww2, partially demolished and rebuilt post war. The grading came later as a block grading of 5 houses, the grading description states the windows were sash windows with glazing bars missing, and goes on to give a vague and at times incorrect description of the houses, especially the roof structures. I can find no pics taken at time of listing.

    As said the UPVC windows were fitted 20 yrs ago, the council hold self commissioned pictures of the windows in their archives, presumably taken because an offence had been committed by the then freeholder/s. As you say UPVC windows are not generally permitted in grade 2 listed buildings, although a few councils will permit good UPVC look a likes.

    Within the last 20 yrs some if not all of the flats have changed hands, on several occasions, where solicitors had inquired about outstanding planning matters, the written reply was no outstanding matters as far as we are aware, it is obvious the planning officers did not look at their own records in depth. The letters are in the same files as the photos of the UPVC windows. I think the council failed in duty of care.

    The conveyancing procedure has now changed and sellers are obliged to fill out a legal inquiry document. The legal document my relative holds states Grade 2 listed building, no known changes made, no planning matters outstanding.

    The irony of this is, this old property is next to a modern block of flats built to replace war destructed 1900 property on a seafront promenade were thousands of people pass by each year, but the council have had no complaints regarding this property with its UPVC windows from the general public including conservationist in all of that time.

    To get back to the basic question, does the local council have the right to knowing ignore an illegal development on a graded building and 20 yrs later take action against the present owner? If they have this power then the planning laws are unjust. Perhaps human rights comes into this somewhere?
     
  9. ^woody^

    ^woody^

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    Yes. They have power to enforce but not a duty.

    The obligation (strictly a duty) is on the owner to comply, or potential owners/ buyers to check.
     
  10. diyeric

    diyeric

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    Hi Woody

    It seems to me that wherever one looks at planning and building regs. a contradiction can be found within the frame work? The problem is nothing is clear cut leaving councils with lots of loop holes and varied opinions in interpretation of the planning frame work and their own development policy. An example of this is I know of two planning grants for the same old property, one is for a separate dwelling in the garden with the condition the finishing material must be the same as the original house and garage. i.e. brick and tiled roof. Reason to compliment the main house and neighboring properties Once built this new dwelling which is for a Carer will not be seen from the highway and most neighbors. The other permission is for a side extension, bed and bathroom for a disabled child, the side extension is attached to the main house, very much visible from the highway, and finished in heat modified wood erected to a pattern with fibre glass roof covering. Reason in accordance with NPFW modern materials should not be overlooked. Everyone says it looks dreadful and spoils the house. So two views or opinions by the same case officer. But no one commented when they had the opportunity.

    However this is a distraction from my problem and needs no comment. I have spotted the following on the ombudsman Q.& A. page.

    If you can consider my complaint what will the Ombudsman look for?
    We might find that the council:

    • failed to take into account the setting of a nearby listed building when granting planning permission
    • failed to take enforcement action where work affecting a listed building was carried out without listed building consent.
    It appears it may be worth while giving the Ombudsman a try. There is no doubt the council knew of the work to a listed building without listed consent and failed to take action at an appropriate time. The result will be down to opinions?
    Eric
     
  11. geraldthehamster

    geraldthehamster

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    Surely if there were a successful complaint that the council had not taken enforcement action, the outcome would be that the council be made to take enforcement action, if still able? Which they are now rightly doing
     
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    DIYnot Local

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