Camden undermines its own planning policies by lack of enforcement

Front of building with railings.

Without planning permission but lawful. Camden Council allowed 26 Warren Street to be converted from offices to residential with on-street car parking and undermining its own planning policies.

A property developer has been allowed to get away with converting offices to residential in Warren Street without planning permission because Camden Council neglected to take out enforcement action despite having the opportunity to do so. Not only has the developer circumvented the planning system he also gained valuable on-street car parking space despite the council’s policy of car-free housing.

An investigation by Fitzrovia News has found that Camden planning officers took little action against an unauthorised development and allowed a developer to get around the planning process. Eventually Camden made a decision to recognise the development as legal and is taking no further action.

In December 2007 Jeff Fugler made a planning application to Camden to convert offices at ground floor and basement at 26 Warren Street. Permission was given subject to a legal agreement for car-free development. This is in line with Camden’s development policies for promoting sustainable and efficient travel and limiting the availability of car parking. However Fugler never signed this legal agreement and Camden subsequently withdrew the planning permission.

In 2011 having discovered that the development had taken place regardless Camden instead of taking action on an unauthorised development asked Fulger to make another planning application. This retrospective application was submitted in 2012. The planning officer recommended granting the application, again subject to a legal agreement for car-free housing. However, planning permission was withdrawn in December 2012.

Camden then appears to have taken no further action.

Car free housing statement from Camden Council.

Car free housing developments are secured through S106 Agreements of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1990.

But documents examined by Fitzrovia News include a letter saying this retrospective application was made on behalf of another member of the Fugler family, Ben Fugler. In this letter dated 23 December 2011 planning consultant Kieran Rafferty writes: “With my tongue only slightly in my cheek, my Client advises that it [sic] would be happy to enter into a S106 agreement to restrict the ability of residents to obtain parking permits”.

Eventually in April this year Ben Fugler, via his agent Kieran Rafferty, applied for a certificate of lawfulness for use of the basement as a self-contained flat. He provided evidence to the council that the premises had been in residential use for at least four years and as such it would not require planning permission.

In April 2014 a Camden planning officer wrote in a report that they were satisfied that the premises had been in residential use for some time and had “no evidence to contradict or undermine the applicant’s version of events”. And so the council granted the application.

When Fitzrovia News contacted Mr Kieran Rafferty he said our news report was inaccurate but declined to comment further. We tried several times to contact Mr Ben Fugler but he did not respond.

A Camden Council spokesperson, said: “Despite a breach of planning control, a Certificate of Lawfulness has had to be granted, in line with planning law.

“Unfortunately these works became lawful, having exceeded the 4 year rule, before an enforcement enquiry could be resolved.

“We are currently investigating the circumstances in which this happened to ensure it doesn’t again.”

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