The partnership won the Enforcement Award at Planning magazine’s planning awards on Tuesday, 17 November, for its joint work tackling the issue of sub-standard outbuildings being used as illegal dwellings.
The council adopted the partnership approach with Ivy Legal law firm, which specialises in planning enforcement services on behalf of local authorities, to protect the interests of residents and encourage more responsible behaviour by landlords.
Through a meticulous system of inspections, enforcement action and legal support to deal with contraventions, the outhouse project has seen an increase in the number of enforcement notices being issued since 2014. In addition, there has been a marked improvement in the borough’s overall success rate on appeal decision, around 90% in favour of the council.
Ealing’s outhouse project, described by judges as “an excellent example of a multi-agency approach to tackling a serious, environmentally and socially damaging misuse of property”, has resulted in more than 100 enforcement notices being issued in the borough since January 2014. These have typically required the outbuildings to be demolished or to stop being used as dwellings.
In just one month, between August and September, five unauthorised outhouses located at properties in East Acton and Southall were demolished by the council as a result of successful inspection and enforcement actions.
Councillor Julian Bell, leader of the council with responsibility for planning, said: “This accolade is a great achievement that recognises the robust partnership work being undertaken by the council and Ivy Legal to ensure our residents are not exploited or disadvantaged by ruthless landlords. The impact the outhouse project has made in the borough, in just a few short years, is quite significant. I am proud of our approach in tackling this issue in Ealing, and to win Planning’s Enforcement Award is an honour.”
Izindi Visagie, from Ivy Legal, said: “The issue of illegal outhouses is a complex but very real problem that affects not only the residents of these 'beds in sheds' but also neighbouring residents and the amenity and character of an area with impacts on services and additional noise. The joint project by Ealing Council and Ivy Legal uniquely approaches these difficult issues in an efficient and effective way. Winning the Enforcement Award at the Planning Awards recognises the hard work and dedication by the team over the course of the last year.”
Residents can report suspected planning breaches online here