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MP Iain Duncan Smith hits out over development as ombudsman starts Woodford Green flats investigation

PUBLISHED: 14:30 10 November 2017

Residents claim the building is three storeys, and should be classed as such, while the council states it is a two storey building with livable space in the roof. Picture: Tabitha Wade

Residents claim the building is three storeys, and should be classed as such, while the council states it is a two storey building with livable space in the roof. Picture: Tabitha Wade

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Iain Duncan Smith is calling on Redbridge Council to reconsider a development in Woodford Green, which the ombudsman is investigating over the planning process.

Iain Duncan Smith at the development in Whitehall Road, Woodford Green. Picture: Tabitha Wade Iain Duncan Smith at the development in Whitehall Road, Woodford Green. Picture: Tabitha Wade

The Woodford Green MP is backing residents who claim the block of flats in Whitehall Road is higher than stated on its application, and that trees have been cut down without consent.

The former work and pensions secretary said: “This development completely overshadows the surrounding residents’ homes and gardens, there are no privacy screenings in place and chatting to the local residents I can see why they are upset with the way this development has progressed.

“I will be writing back to the council to ask for answers, as I do not believe they have addressed the concerns raised to date.”

Today the Recorder revealed that the Local Government Ombudsman is investigating the council’s planning process following residents’ complaints over the development.

In June 2016 planning permission was granted to demolish the house on the site, and replace it with five flats spread over two storeys.

The residents allege that the council did not adequately consult on the proposals and consider the building to be three storeys high instead of the two stated on the application.

Documents show the complainants also claim that trees screening the view of the development have been cut down without permission, which is a breach of planning conditions.

The ombudsman has requested information from the council about the process, with a deadline of November 17 for submissions.

A council spokeswoman said: “The ombudsman is currently investigating a complaint from residents in relation to planning permission at 191 Whitehall Road.

“The council’s planning service is preparing comments for the ombudsman.” In a letter to Mr Duncan Smith, the council said that the building was not three storeys, but a two storey block of flats with livable space in the roof.

Regarding the trees it said: “There is an issue with some of the trees which should have been retained. However, the site is not in a conservation area ... so [the trees] do not have any statutory protection and can be removed without consent.”

The ombudsman’s office declined to comment on ongoing investigations.

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