Planning Enforcement case 17/00668/NCC

Response to this request is delayed. By law, Croydon Borough Council should normally have responded promptly and by (details)

Dear Croydon Borough Council,

On 25 September, I wrote to the Council enquiring of their “knowledge…and intentions” regarding the formal complaint apparently made to the planning department about my property, specifically the “…1st floor side facing windows. …”. I wrote again later the same day, asking for the reference number given to the formal complaint and the contact details of the enforcement officer dealing with it?

On 29 September, having received no response, I wrote to the Council again asking for the reference number and case officer details. Later that day, I received a response from the Council’s Enforcement & Trees Team Leader [Robert Snodin], informing me that a planning enforcement investigation had begun regarding my property and providing the case reference number and case officer details.

On 23 October, I wrote to the case officer asking to be updated with regard to the status of the Council's investigaton into the matter. I offered to provide information by email to assist, but heard nothing back.

On 31 October, the case officer informed me that “…After consultation with one of the senior planning officers I have also chosen not to pursue the matter regarding your property ….

I replied the same day, as follows:
“… Could you please explain why you have used the word 'also', since I am not aware of any other planning enforcement complaints about me or my property.

Could you also please provide the following information:
1. the details of the 'senior planning officer' with whom you have consulted on THIS matter,
2. the PLANNING GROUNDS on which the Council has 'chosen not to pursue the matter', WITHOUT investigation [i.e. without a site visit or any information gathering], and
3. the details of the Council officer responsible for making this DECISION.”

On 5 November, I chased the case officer for a response, copying Mr Snodin into the email. Apart from a ‘read receipt’ from Mr Snodin [6 November], I have heard nothing further from the Council on this matter.

Please provide copies of information showing:
1. what OTHER'decision' was the case officer referring to by the inclusion of the word 'also',
2. the details of the 'senior planning officer' with whom the case officer consulted on THIS case,
3. the PLANNING GROUNDS on which the Council has decided not to pursue the matter, WITHOUT investigation, and
4. the details of the DECISION-MAKER.

NOTE: it has been confirmed to me separately that the case officer is NOT involved in the planning decision making process.

Yours faithfully,

Stephen Whiteside

Information, Croydon Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Whiteside,

 

Thank you for your email.

 

This has been passed to our complaints team who will respond to you no
later than 13 December 2017.  Your reference number is CASE4307667, please
quote this on any correspondence.

 

Kind regards.

 

Jo

 

Jo Welch-Hall

Information Support Officer

 

[1]cid:image001.jpg@01D30A17.44961B50

 

Resources Department

Customer Transformation and Communications Services

Information and Systems Manager

7^th Floor, Zone B

Bernard Weatherill House

8 Mint Walk

Croydon CR0 1EA

 

 

From: Stephen Whiteside
[[2]mailto:[FOI #446874 email]]
Sent: 16 November 2017 14:24
To: Information <[3][email address]>
Subject: Freedom of Information request - Planning Enforcement case
17/00668/NCC

 

Dear Croydon Borough Council,

 

On 25 September,  I wrote to the Council enquiring of their “knowledge…and
intentions” regarding the formal complaint apparently made to the planning
department about my property, specifically the “…1st floor side facing
windows. …”.  I wrote again later the same day, asking for the reference
number given to the formal complaint and the contact details of the
enforcement officer dealing with it?

 

On 29 September, having received no response, I wrote to the Council again
asking for the reference number and case officer details.  Later that day,
I received a response from the Council’s Enforcement & Trees Team Leader
[Robert Snodin], informing me that a planning enforcement investigation
had begun regarding my property and providing the case reference number
and case officer details.

 

On 23 October, I wrote to the case officer asking to be updated with
regard to the status of the Council's investigaton into the matter.  I
offered to provide information by email to assist, but heard nothing back.

 

On 31 October, the case officer informed me that “…After consultation with
one of the senior planning officers I have also chosen not to pursue the
matter regarding your property ….

 

I replied the same day, as follows:

“… Could you please explain why you have used the word 'also', since I am
not aware of any other planning enforcement complaints about me or my
property.

 

Could you also please provide the following information:

1. the details of the 'senior planning officer' with whom you have
consulted on THIS matter, 2. the PLANNING GROUNDS on which the Council has
'chosen not to pursue the matter', WITHOUT investigation [i.e. without a
site visit or any information gathering], and 3. the details of the
Council officer responsible for making this DECISION.”

 

On 5 November, I chased the case officer for a response, copying Mr Snodin
into the email.  Apart from a ‘read receipt’ from Mr Snodin [6 November],
I have heard nothing further from the Council on this matter.

 

Please provide copies of information showing:

1.   what OTHER'decision' was the case officer referring to by the
inclusion of the word 'also',

2.   the details of the 'senior planning officer' with whom  the case
officer consulted on THIS case,

3.   the PLANNING GROUNDS on which the Council has decided not to pursue
the matter, WITHOUT investigation, and

4.   the details of the DECISION-MAKER.

 

NOTE: it has been confirmed to me separately that the case officer is NOT
involved in the planning decision making process.

 

Yours faithfully,

 

Stephen Whiteside

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Please use this email address for all replies to this request:

[4][FOI #446874 email]

 

Is [5][Croydon Borough Council request email] the wrong address for Freedom of
Information requests to Croydon Borough Council? If so, please contact us
using this form:

[6]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/change_re...

 

Disclaimer: This message and any reply that you make will be published on
the internet. Our privacy and copyright policies:

[7]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/offi...

 

For more detailed guidance on safely disclosing information, read the
latest advice from the ICO:

[8]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/ico-...

 

Please note that in some cases publication of requests and responses will
be delayed.

 

If you find this service useful as an FOI officer, please ask your web
manager to link to us from your organisation's FOI page.

 

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Council services, online, 24/7 www.croydon.gov.uk/myaccount Download our
new free My Croydon app for a faster, smarter and better way to report
local issues www.croydon.gov.uk/app From 1 October 2015, it is a legal
requirement for all privately rented properties in Croydon to be licensed.
Landlords without a licence could face fines of up to £20,000. For more
information and to apply for a licence visit
www.croydon.gov.uk/betterplacetorent Please use this web site address to
view the council's e-mail disclaimer -
http://www.croydon.gov.uk/email-disclaimer

References

Visible links
2. mailto:[FOI #446874 email]
3. mailto:[email address]
4. mailto:[FOI #446874 email]
5. mailto:[Croydon Borough Council request email]
6. https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/change_re...
7. https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/offi...
8. https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/ico-...

Stephen Whiteside

Dear Information,

Your Ref : CASE4307667

Unfortunately, your 'complaints team' have sent their response to my private email address.

Could you please ensure that the Council's response to this REQUEST for information, which was not intended as a 'complaint', to be published on this [WhatDoTheyKnow] correspondence thread.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Stephen Whiteside

Dear Information,

According to the Regulations, I should have received the Authority's response to this REQUEST, within 20 working days [i.e. by 15 December].

Could you please ensure that a full response is provided HERE [on the appropriate WhatDoTheyKnow correspondence thread], as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely,

Stephen Whiteside

Stephen Whiteside left an annotation ()

On 18/12/2017 15:07, Information wrote to my private email address:

Dear Mr Whiteside,

Please see attached the response that was sent to your private email address on 7th December 2018.

As What Do They Know is a public forum and your request was actually a complaint, the Council logged it with our Complaints Team. Responses to complaints are not uploaded to public forums.

However, you are able to upload the response to WDTK should you wish to. You may however, wish to redact you email address and any personal details.

Kind regards.
...
Jo Welch-Hall
Information Support Officer

THIS WAS NOT A COMPLAINT, and I would be interested to hear from anyone else who has had a legitimate request for information treated as a 'complaint' by Croydon Council.

In the meantime, I will place the Council's 'findings' onto this correspondence thread, as they suggest.

Dear Croydon Borough Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Croydon Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Planning Enforcement case 17/00668/NCC'.

The following is a copy of the relevant part of the Council’s response [07.12.17- CASE4307667 ], provided by its Head of Development Management, Pete Smith. [I have redacted personal data relating to the investigating officer.

“Planning Enforcement Investigation – 173 Upper Selsdon Road, South Croydon.

I refer to your e-mail dated the 16th November 2017 in respect of the above site and our investigation into the alleged breach of planning control. Your e-mail has been treated as a Stage 1 Complaint under the Council’s Corporate Complaints Procedure. ...
...
My Findings

Whilst I have been unable to discuss the issues you have raised with [REDACTED], I have looked at the planning enforcement case notes and can respond with the following in the hope that it will assist and provide further clarity for you.

The Council has a legal duty to investigate alleged breaches of planning control. Section 196 A-C of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended) gives the local planning authority the power to authorise named officers to enter land specifically for enforcement purposes, to determine whether there is or has been any breach of planning control on the land. [REDACTED] is one such named officer.

As you are aware [REDACTED] was the investigating officer dealing with your complaint regarding an alleged unauthorised development at your neighbour’s property (175 Upper Selsdon Road). It would appear from the information included as part of the case file that your side windows (which were the subject of a separate complaint) were inspected by [REDACTED] when visiting your neighbour’s property. This investigation allowed [REDACTED] to gather the information deemed sufficient to return to the office and confirm with the senior planning officer (Ms. Nicola Townsend - Team Leader DM North) that the windows in question had been in place for some time and were not considered to be new development. This meant that there was no breach of planning control.

I believe that [REDACTED] used the word ‘also’ in the sentence to confirm that [REDACTED] reached a similar view as Nicola Townsend. The enforcement file (LBC Ref 17/00668/NCC) was then closed by my Planning Enforcement Team Leader (Robert Snodin).

Your email appears to suggest the Council has withheld information or has not been suitably transparent. It seems to me that we have been very clear and transparent. We received allegations of a breach of planning control at your property, the enforcement officer investigated, sought advice and concluded that there was no breach of planning control. I am satisfied [REDACTED] investigated the allegation correctly, behaved in an appropriate manner and carried out [REDACTED] duties responsibly and in accordance with good practice.

If you feel that your complaint has not been investigated properly or you wish to provide significant new information then you may complain to the next stage of the complaint procedure. ….”

My email of 16 November 2017 was in fact NOT a complaint, but a REQUEST FOR INFORMATION. Since the currently withheld information relates to the development of land, I consider that the request should be dealt with under the terms of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

This REQUEST was for COPIES of the information to which Mr Smith has apparently referred … rather than any INTERPRETATION of that information.

--- Please now provide COPIES of the information requested [redacted as appropriate], most if not all of which should be found within case notes in enforcement file 17/00668/NCC.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...

Yours faithfully,

Stephen Whiteside

Information, Croydon Borough Council

Dear Mr Whiteside,

Thank you for your email.

As per the previous email from the Information Team, this was logged as a complaint and not an FOI. Therefore this cannot be reviewed under FOI guidelines.

However, this can be escalated to Complaints and you should find details of how to do this on your response letter.

If you have a request for information, under the FOI Act, please clearly set out your questions and we will log this as a new request.

Kind regards.

Jo

Jo Welch-Hall
Information Support Officer

Resources Department
Customer Transformation and Communications Services
7th Floor, Zone B
Bernard Weatherill House
8 Mint Walk
Croydon CR0 1EA

show quoted sections

Stephen Whiteside

Dear IMs Welch-Hall,

This REQUEST was made under the FOIA/EIR.

That the Council chose to log it as a 'complaint' is the Council's problem!

If the outstanding information is not provided within the next 5 working days, I will submit a complaint to the Information Commissioner about the authority's handling of the REQUEST.

Yours sincerely,

Stephen Whiteside

Looking for an EU Authority?

You can request documents directly from EU Institutions at our sister site AskTheEU.org . Find out more .

AskTheEU.org