Jim Gowans’ West Hill Watch…
Surrey Street Trees
All five trees recently planted in Surrey Street as part of the multi million pound highways scheme in the vicinity of the main railway station have died or suffered severe damage as a result of vandalism or impact with motor vehicles which mount the pavement. A further three semi mature trees have been planted at the southern end of Surrey Street and we await their fate with some anxiety. As with the ill-fated Seven Dials Roundabout scheme which was over budget by 50% and which even then has required repairs less than a year after completion, there are inevitably questions raised about the competence of those designing the station gateway scheme.
Illegal Estate Agents Boards
Since September 2010 it has been illegal to display an estate agent’s board outside a residential property in the West Hill and certain other conservation areas. There have been a number of prosecutions resulting in fines of thousands of pounds but nevertheless some agents continue to break the law either through ignorance or because they believe the law will not be enforced. Given the almost total failure of the authorities to enforce the 20 mph speed limits the latter is hardly an unreasonable position to take!
The risks of a retrospective planning application
A house-holder in Centurion Road has been refused permission to change the front door and lower ground floor windows of a 1970s property which is part of a terrace of identical town houses. City planning officers described the alterations as “adversely affecting the character and appearance of the terrace”. The householder now has the problem of re-instating the original designs, which is likely to cost thousands of pounds. It is a lesson to us all to consult the planning department before starting any major works, especially to the front of buildings in the conservation area.
26a West Hill Road (former Pickett Garage site)
Much improved detailed plans and other documents, such as a builder’s contract, were submitted in February although the City planners have yet to approve them. The position of the parking space (for one car only) has been changed to allow easier access from the public highway and to reduce the gap in the proposed wall and railings, which will replace the existing wall which has been partly demolished. The proposed doors, windows and other materials seem to be much more sympathetic to the neighbouring houses and the character of the area than those submitted before Christmas.