Published On: 1st March 2024
Image by David Crabtree

Image by David Crabtree

PILC have helped social tenants to retain their much-loved gardens and to bring Rochdale Borough Council ‘RBC’ and Rochdale Borough Housing ‘RBH’ to the table to discuss mitigation of disruption from controversial refurbishment plans. Plans included the removal of all garden fencing for 44 weeks.

Resident David Crabtree is a carer for his two disabled sons, one of whom suffers from severe mental health issues and takes solace in their meticulously kept garden.  David was concerned that the impact works would have on his sons and his garden  had simply not been considered by the council or housing association. His concerns were shared by many of his neighbours.

As Greater Manchester Tenants Union noted, residents were so upset about the lack of consideration which led to this planning decision that they were ready to chain themselves to their fences to stop them being removed whilst refurbishment works were undertaken. 

Residents were even more upset when plans were approved via a delegated decision (rather than at planning committee where they could have addressed the committee directly) and that one of the objection letters, signed by 4 residents, was treated as a single objection.

A Letter Before Claim was sent to the council and housing association, which argued there was:

  • A failure to comply with the Public Sector Equality Act Duty  – in relation to the lack of consideration of the impact of the proposed plans
  • An unlawful delegation of powers and failure to ensure procedural fairness
  • Irrationality in counting a group objection as a single objection and thus recording only 4 objections in total in the Officer Report.
  • Fettering of discretion to allow the planning committee to take this controversial planning decision.

Outcome

Both RBC and RBH agreed to proposed Alternative Dispute Resolution to avoid litigation, namely to:

  1. Agree the garden fencing would not be removed whilst refurbishment works take place; and
  2. Meet with the tenants before any work commences to discuss and agree mitigation measures to reduce the impact of disruption during refurbishment works.

In addition to the above, the tenants received an unreserved apology  about how these events were handled.

Tenant David states:

“Following an absence of communication from our social housing landlord and local Council regarding a dispute over improvement works to our homes and subsequent planning approval, a group of tenants approached the Public Interest Law Centre to step in and represent us in a legal case. As a result of mitigation and a number of resolution meetings, I am pleased to say that the communication between landlord and tenants has now been fully restored, and by working together with our landlord and Council we can now move forward with what’s important to our homes and within our community.”