Agenda item

Raisins Hill Area Of Special Local Character- Petition Requesting An Article 4 Direction


The Cabinet Member considered a petition from residents requesting an article 4 direction in the Raisins Hill area of special local character. The petitioners spoke of their concerns and suggestions including the following:


·         The petition organiser had been a resident for 32 years and the petition had been signed by 100 residents which was approximately 69/135 dwellings. Five dwellings declined to sign the petition.

·         Hillingdon Council designated Raisins Hill as an area of special local character in 2012 after consultation with residents.

·         The area had a well-defined character. 

·         Residents were unhappy with the degradation of the area of special local character which was caused by permitted development rules. These rightsallowed home owner to make significant changes to their roofs without the need to apply for planning permission.

·         There had been an increase in these types of roofs and it was argued that this did not preserve the local character.

·         Roofs were one of the primary characteristics of the area of special local character affecting more than just one aspect of the designation.

·         Petitioners requested protection as it was damaging the coherence of the architectural designs. The townscape significance as the character and hierarchy of spaces and interesting vistas along the streets and views between buildings were being spoilt.

·         The petitioner referred the Cabinet Member and officers to some photographs demonstrating the changes to the roof scapes.

·         Petitioners requested an article 4 direction to be obtained to restrict permitted development changes to roofs in Raisins Hill area of special local character so that planning applications would have to be made if there were going to be changes to roofs.  Petitioners requested this only in relation to the permitted development of roofs.

·         Petitioners acknowledged that there were a number of steps involved and it would not be easy to obtain the article 4 direction, however petitioners were also willing to accept other suitable solutions.

·         Overall residents were unhappy with the roofs and wanted to protect the area.


Councillor Duncan Flynn attended the meeting and spoke as Ward Councillor in support of the petition. He noted the issues and concerns raised by residents. He explained that Raisins Hill was a rare road in terms of its structure and layout, houses had similar materials and there was good quality housing in the area. The road had seen a number of different applications and substantial changes. He appreciated that national planning policy limited what could be done. He also accepted that an article 4 direction was not an easy process but did not consider it to be an unreasonable expectation. He sympathised with residents and hoped that this petition would be the start of some meaningful dialogue with a positive outcome.


Councillor Jonathan Bianco attended the meeting and spoke as Ward Councillor in support of the petition. He shared the views of Councillor Flynn and sympathised with residents. He saw both sides and was pleased to see this petition was not completely anti-development. He asserted that within reason owners should be able to develop to some degree. He asked officers to consider the article 4 direction, and questioned if this was not possible, was there any other suitable option. 


In response to the submissions heard, officers confirmed that there was no authority to remove permitted development rights as they were rights put in by the law of the land. The request could only be made to the department of the Secretary of State. In response to Councillor Bianco’s question on whether or not it was reasonable, officers explained that there was a criteria to meet and this would determine the strength of the application. Matters such as a greater need for housing could be factors however the likelihood of engagement in this case would be small given the size of the area involved. It was for the department of the Secretary of State to make a judgement and this would be made on the factors mentioned earlier, in addition to resource and the gravity of the application. Councillor Burrows was unsure whether this could be sufficient to meet the criteria and questioned whether there were any HMOs in the area. Officers did not this have this information to hand but Councillor Flynn indicated that he did not think so.


Councillor Burrows listened to the concerns of the petitioners and responded to the points raised. Councillor Burrows had regard to the photographs put before him by petitioners, but in his view, the photographs did not show significant changes to roofs due to the materials used. This was confirmed by officers and it was also mentioned that if there were significant changes, the Council’s enforcement team would have been involved as this would not have fell under permitted development rights.


Councillor Burrows explained that there was an article 4 direction in the Brunel and Uxbridge South area due to the number of family homes being turned in to HMOs. The only way to protect these properties was by an article 4 direction. Although it was a long process, the Secretary of State was engaged as it was a large area.


Councillor Burrows noted Councillor Bianco’s assertion as to whether this could be a conservation area. This was looked at in 2017 but did to meet the requirements. It was questioned what exact areas were big looked at as it could involve a larger area the Raisins Hill beyond.


Overall, Councillor Burrows considered that permitted development rights could not be withdrawn as they were governed by central planning policies however was keen to explore whether this area could be upgraded to a conservation area.


In considering the matters, Councillors Burrows made the following decisions. 




Meeting with the Petitioners, the Cabinet Member:


1.    Listened to the concerns outlined and reasons put forward by residents for an Article 4 Direction. 


2.    Noted that Council's Conservation Officers have considered in detail what makes Raisins Hill an Area of Special Local Character, as explained in the body of this report.


3.    Noted that the Council needs to consider very carefully whether there are any circumstances particularly relevant to Raisins Hill Area of Special Local Character which justify withdrawing permitted development rights for roof conversions and agreeing an Article 4 Direction.


4.    Considered the wider implications of imposing an Article 4 Direction on Raisins Hill Area of Special Local Character. 


5.    Decided that the request for an Article 4 Direction should be not agreed and therefore will not be added to the Council’s Cabinet Forward Plan.


6.    Requested Officers to look at the possibility of upgrading Raisins  Hill Area of Special Local Character to a conversation area, taking into account the submissions made by the petition and ward councillors and report these back to the Cabinet Member.


Reason for decision


The petition hearing provided a valuable opportunity to hear directly from the petitioners of their concerns and suggestions. 


Alternative options considered / risk management


None at this stage.


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