On 22nd March 2018 the Chairman and Vice-chairman of the Society had a follow-up meeting with Cllr. Pascall and senior officials of RBKC to review progress on the Chelsea Enforcement pilot scheme. See https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/planning-and-building-control/chelsea-enforcement-pilot
We were pleased to find that positive action is being taken to visit building sites to ensure so far as possible that the planning laws (including Construction Management Plans and Construction Traffic Management Plans) are being complied with, and to patrol the streets to deal with obstruction of the highway.
We found that in the last two months the Council had served 30 Environmental Health Notices, 9 Planning Enforcement Notices and 5 Streetscene Enforcement Notices, and had issued 24 Fixed-penalty Notices. In addition, Council officials had dealt with 58 issues by telephone or e-mail, and had held 4 drop-in sessions at Chelsea Old Town Hall. There had also been 3 Community Group meetings and two Ward-Councillor meetings. Council officials are available for residents to speak with them in person at Chelsea Old Town Hall on Mondays between 1pm and 4pm, Wednesdays between 9:30am and 12 noon and Thursdays between 1pm and 4pm.
We emphasised the importance of:
a. agreeing with builders and their neighbours before work begins the days and times when noisy work can be carried out, and strictly enforcing those rules by making spot checks.
b. defining what is meant by noisy work. We think the use of electric drills and power saws and planes should be included. Also radios should not be played if they are audible outside the premises
c. establishing and enforcing strict rules for the temporary obstruction of the highway or footpath and the use of parking bays.
d. ensuring that all workers on site know the rules, and that they are prominently displayed on site in the relevant languages.
e. gathering evidence of breaches of the rules, and encouraging neighbours to supply photographic evidence and sound recordings. Where there is a conflict of evidence between the builder and a neighbour, the builder should not necessarily be believed, and neighbours should be encouraged to make written or voice-recorded statements
f .responding as quickly as possible to complaints even outside office hours, by officials based in Chelsea
g. finding ways to deal with breaches of party-wall awards without the need for neighbours to employ solicitors.
h. using e-mails and texts to ensure that neighbours know what the Council is doing, so that they do not feel neglected.
i. recognising that the quality of life of local residents is at least as important as the wishes of developers.
The Chelsea Society will keep this enforcement scheme under review and will hold another meeting to review progress after three months.
On 15th November 2017 the Deputy Leader of the Council, Cllr. Will Pascall, held a meeting with the Chairman of the Society, James Thompson, the Planning Committee Chairman, Michael Stephen, and the member of the Planning Committee for Royal Hospital Ward, Chris Lenon, to discuss the enforcement of obligations relating to building works and also to the use of the highways and the public realm. The meeting was attended by senior officials of RBKC.
The Chelsea Society considers that the public expect to see prompt enforcement if incidents occur at any time of day or night and on any day of the week, including Sundays and Bank Holidays.
Issues discussed included:
• The use of information technology to receive information from the public via voice, text, photos and videos from mobile phones, and to enable the public to track progress on their complaint.
• The use of photos and videos from mobile phones so that enforcement officers could receive visual information and contact site managers immediately by phone in the first instance instead of having to spend time travelling to and from the site.
• Ensuring that there is always a responsible person on site able to speak English and that enforcement officers have their mobile phone numbers
• Ensuring that a parking bay is reserved for vehicles delivering or collecting scaffolding or other items which would cause the vehicle to obstruct the highway for more than a few minutes.
• Enforcing the law against waiting on double yellow lines, especially in the Kings Road
• Enforcing the law against stationary vehicles with their engine running
• Stationing one, or possibly two, enforcement officers in Chelsea to deal with the four Chelsea Wards
• Ensuring efficient liaison with the police so that enforcement would not be delayed by looking for someone with the necessary powers to deal with violations.
• Finding ways in which the cost of enforcement could be met from penalty charges, s. 106 Agreements, and deposits from developers.
It was agreed that a pilot project would be commenced as soon as the necessary information-technology was in place. The Chelsea Society is willing to test the system from the point of view of the public before it goes live.