The owners of Harrow Lodge, 28 Eaton Road, have used a device known as “Prior Approval” to obtain planning permission to extend the building – adding a storey to the top of the building, with some other changes. This will add 10 new flats to the building. In Mulgrave Road the owners of The Rowans, 47 Mulgrave Road, have similarly obtained planning application to add 8 new flats by adding two storeys to the top of the building. This is a current trend – to add extra storeys to the top of blocks of flats.

The applicants both used a device in national planning law known as “Prior Approval” which means that Councillors cannot take the application to the Council’s Planning Committee. We consider that this procedure was introduced to undermine the planning system and reduce local control of planning decisions. We are not able to stop these changes taking place as the system means the application has to be assessed by Council officers against a narrow set of criteria and if the application is refused the Planning Inspectorate, based in Bristol, has the power to over-ride local decisions.

As your local Councillors, we are concerned about these developments. While there is a need for more accommodation, these changes will involve building work that will impact on residents. However we seek to ensure that conditions are stipulated in any planning permission, if it is granted, to protect the peace and quiet of the residents during construction work. These include that access to the roof should be via an external hoist, the interior of the building should not be a storage area or building site, there should be a construction management plan, the contractors should join the Considerate Contractors’ Scheme, and there should be a liaison officer residents can contact. If scaffolding is erected it should only be erected when needed and removed as soon as it is not needed.

A similar application for extra storeys on the roof of the building at Chelsea Court in Mulgrave Road was turned down on the basis of our representations that it would have made the building look incongruous. And a similar application in relation to Magnolia Court in Grange Road was withdrawn in the light of our opposition.

We welcome feedback on your views on planning proposals. You can see the details and comment on planning applications via the Sutton Council website (go to the section on planning) or comment by post to

Development Management, Civic Offices, St Nicholas Way, Sutton, SM1 1EA.

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