Weekly Update From Councillor Guy Lambert

Planning enforcement frustration, Watermans and Boston Manor Park



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Planning committee was preceded by a short presentation about planning enforcement. This is a very frustrating subject because it takes so long. One not so Brilliant case in Brentford first came to my attention in March 2016. They applied for planning permission for a small extension, which was granted, but they went on to build an enormous extension without permission. The neighbour complained and we started a case.

The owner eventually applied for retrospective planning permission, which was refused. He appealed against the refusal. The planning inspector upheld the refusal. We served notice for the owner to demolish. He didn’t demolish. We took him to court. He was fined a large sum and told to demolish. He appealed to the court of appeal. With our wonderfully prompt court system (which was even more prompt before the pandemic) it seems this case will be heard in Jan/Feb 2022 so I’m hoping this will come to a conclusion within 6 years of it starting. I suppose he might try the Supreme Court, European Court of Human Rights, International Court of Justice or Captain Kirk on a Federation Starcruiser, boldly going where no dodgy developer has gone before. At least he won’t be able to go to the European Court of Justice (I think). We get frustrated by this (as do neighbours who are directly affected) and tend to harass officers. I’m not saying our officers are perfect, but the system does not help them!

Planning Committee had a couple of contested items – the warehouse change of use we had deferred from last month, which was ultimately approved with some conditions to limit the impact on neighbours, and one about a church in Heston wanting to start a day nursery. Locals were vehemently opposed because of concerns about traffic and parking. Following a scene like a Jimmy Stewart movie where Corinna, my ward colleague and chair of Planning, threatened to clear you varmints out of my court if you don’t keep quiet, we voted to defer for further reports, though had it been my decision I would have approved it. There was a small development on a garage site in Feltham , which we approved and a proposed new Travelodge on Chiswick High Road. Much as I am in favour of promoting active travel and public transport rather than cars as the preferred transport in London, I have difficulty with the idea of a car free hotel in the suburbs, not a gnat’s whisker from the North Circular Road and the A4/M4, so I was one of the few who voted against this one.

It had been a long week, so all I did on Friday (bar the usual busybodying around the ward and thereabouts) was a Zooting© with the director and chair of Watermans, to update them as far as I can on what’s happening with developments locally including their potential new home. There is still more uncertainty than anyone would like but the council is working hard to bring matters to a head, and we all agree that arts (and crafts) provision is crucial to the future character and success of Brentford.

On Sunday it was the Remembrance service at Brentford Library. Very well attended and – as ever – good and moving speeches from the vicar and the organisers. On this occasion Steve Curran laid the Mayor’s wreath and The Melvinator laid one for the Labour Party. Mel also sang the first verse of the National Anthem and it reminded me what a beautiful voice he has.

Remembrance service at Brentford Library

Then I quickly nipped home to change out of my uncomfortable posh shoes and thence to Brentford Market, which is back to its vibrant best with quite a lot of stalls I hadn’t seen before, including some Italian-sounding people (possibly from Catford) selling genuine Italian type pasta etc (possibly from Wolverhampton) into which I was obliged to invest in honour of growth in GDP (Guy’s Developing Pot belly)

Brentford Market

On Monday it was Zooterviews© for the MD of Lampton Development and Investment. The person who’s been running it for a year or more is an interim manager and with the companies stabilised and working very well it’s time to make a permanent appointment. We saw two excellent candidates including the incumbent interim and were very happy to make an appointment.

Late afternoon we had some personal safety training. I must say I have never really felt threatened in my role as a councillor (one or two slavering hounds apart) even when somebody threatened online to shoot me but I daresay the same was true of David Amess and Jo Cox so it makes sense to consider how we go about our business.

In the evening was the Brentford and Chiswick Local History Society talk about 10,000 years history of Brentford, given by Jon Cotton who manages to combine supreme knowledge of the subject with outstanding clarity of presentation. I always wonder if these kind of talks will hold my attention but this one was really riveting. I won’t attempt to mount a pale imitation but exhort anybody with a modicum of interest to join the society and attend the talks – they really are fascinating.

On Tuesday we had a tour of various sites managed by Lampton Community Services. This was mainly for the benefit of the newish Non Exec Directors and a good event for getting to know each other. We started at their depot in Ashmead Road Feltham then proceeded to Bedfont Lakes Country Park. Fantastic committed staff there including this rescue ferret (forget her name) who like most of the animals in their little zoo is a rescue ‘person’. Part of the unpaid staff who is merely given food and lodging. Bedfont Lakes is fab and it was good to get explanations from the people who look after it. Also lots of potential for improvement which Lampton will pursue with council officers.

Next stop was Southall Lane to look at our recycling facility. It’s a while since I’ve been there and it’s a bit grubbier than when it was new but it still looks impressive and I find it quite exciting to visit places where they actually do stuff! The Greenspace HQ is just around the corner so we walked there and had a few sandwiches with people from Greenspace and Recycle360.

Then it was Brentford library, where Coalo were commissioned for much of the building work, including the new roof lantern which was probably the trickiest bit. Library still looking great.

Then I cycled home from Ashmead, put on my best shirt and cycled back to Hounslow House for an official cabinet shot related to Council of the Year and then a Cabinet meeting. We got very quickly through the cabinet agenda, the most important matters being the annual refresh of the Medium Term Financial Strategy (something all councils are obliged to do, even when flummoxed by the inability of the government to give them even short term financial strategy) and an update on the One Hounslow initiative, which is really taking shape now.

On Wednesday I had a session with one of the officers from West London Waste about the government initiative called Extended Producer Responsibility. This has been around for a bit but we’re still not very clear what the government intends in any detail: in principle it is to support ‘polluter pays’ and to get manufacturers and retailer to take responsibility for the costs of collecting and disposing of waste they generate, but details are opaque. This will be my specialist subject over the coming months as we develop a strategy for the whole of West London, with the 6 boroughs hopefully developing a consensus.

I was alerted to the work being done to drain and dredge the lake in Boston Manor Park so I went up to take a look.


boston manor park lake being dredged

My pictures don’t do it justice but basically the pond is full of sludge that has built up over decades and this makes it an unhealthy environment. They are dredging, filtering, separating etc with the fish and wildfowl relocated for their first holiday in years, though some of the coots prefer a staycation.

Good events happening in BMP led by our Natural Park Manager Vanessa

Later on I had the Lampton Leisure Board. The centres are going well but the membership ramp up is not as fast as we’d like. The good news is that the members we have are more stable, because the centres are now clean and very well run and customer satisfaction is very high, so I’m confident we’ll get there.

Round to Thursday again and a short West London Waste session. Lots of concerns across the region about lack of staff availability with Christmas coming which means extra holidays and extra waste, though we’re all coping at the moment.

Now I’m off to my (normally annual but not last year – wonder why) reunion of old Honeywell etc colleagues over the Beaujolais Nouveau. It was important to write this before the plonk hits what’s left of the brain.

Cllr Guy Lambert

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November 19, 2021

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