Plan to scrap Redbridge conservation panel will go ahead despite requisition

Redbridge Town Hall Photo credit: Redbridge Council

Redbridge Town Hall Photo credit: Redbridge Council - Credit: Archant

Plans to abolish a conservation panel advising on planning applications will go ahead despite the decision being requisitioned at a council meeting last night.

Councillors voted against taking the issue of removing Redbridge’s Conservation Advisory Panel (CAP) to a full council meeting and voted for no further action at the Overview Committee meeting at Redbridge Town Hall.

The decision comes after five councillors called in the decision made at last month’s Regulatory Services Committee meeting.

The CAP, which meets every six weeks, will now be replace by a forum which meets twice a year, despite concerns aired by Historic England in a letter to the council, which was read out at the meeting.

The letter from Graham Saunders read: “We are concerned that the proposed dis-establishment of the CAP may limit Redbridge in its ability to manage effectively the historic environment, a key elemen of community identity and wellbeing.”

He went on to call for the CAP’s re-establishment during a “difficult period for all local authorities”.

In a statement in the lead-up to the meeting Cllr Paul Canal said: “Labour are systematically removing the protections that have kept and made Redbrige a pleasant place in which to live.”

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The council hopes to save between £3,000 and £6,000 and between 18 and 36 days of officers’ time a year

Redbridge Council leader Cllr Jas Athwal said after the meeting: “I’m disappointed that while we are working to save money in the face of unprecedented government cuts, a decision to simply remove an advisory panel, which has no power to make any decisions, has been dragged out in such a way.

“There are still robust methods in place for dealing with conservation as part of the planning process. Organisations that have an interest in particular conservation areas will still be able submit their comments on planning applications and have them carefully considered.

“To face up to the budget challenges from government we are making incredibly difficult choices about services and people’s jobs. The kinds of decisions that will have a real impact on people’s lives whether they live in the borough, travel through it or work here. It’s unhelpful that at such a time such a relatively minor matter has been needlessly extended.

“Quite simply we are at a time where we have to evolve and tackle our responsibilities in an even more efficient and streamlined way. The removal of the Conservation Advisory Panel is just one of the ways we are doing this.”