Camden and Westminster among highest in UK for planning breaches

Camden Council could be forced to sell off nearly half its social housing stock

Camden Council could be forced to sell off nearly half its social housing stock - Credit: Archant

Westminster and Camden are among the top five boroughs in the country for the highest number of planning permission breaches, according to new analysis.  

Camden was ranked fifth, with 6,062 alleged breaches between 2016-2020, while Westminster was the highest of local authorities in the UK, with 10,094 alleged breaches.  

According to analysis by housing website GetAgent, Camden only took action against 348 cases where planning permission breaches were reported (6%).   

The Heath & Hampstead Society expressed frustration, calling for more enforcement notices to be issued by Camden.  

David Castle, chair of the group’s planning sub-committee, said: “The Heath & Hampstead Society has been trying to persuade Camden to be more diligent and effective in enforcement for years. It is well known that Westminster is better by far.”

Despite reaching almost double the number of planning breaches as Camden in the same period, the data suggests Westminster Council has been quicker to deliver enforcement.  

The analysis shows that compared to Camden’s 348 cases (6%), Westminster took action on 4,740 cases (47%).

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Camden Council's cabinet member for investing in communities, Danny Beales, said the local authority “always fully investigates any complaint received about an alleged breach of planning control”, but said it prefers to take informal action where possible.   

He said Camden finds that “informal action like this can allow for breaches to be resolved more quickly without the need for costly appeals”.  

“It’s no surprise that those local authorities with the largest number of planning complaints are in dense urban areas, where there is not only more building work taking place, but people are living more closely together, ensuring a high level of scrutiny of works from neighbours,” Cllr Beales said.  

A spokesperson for Westminster Council said: “Westminster is the busiest planning authority in the country dealing with thousands of developments each year. It is no surprise that we handle more planning complaints and breaches than other authorities.”  

The town hall said “there are many high-profile examples of the council going above and beyond to stand up for local communities – such as the Carlton Tavern led to the re-building of the pub brick by brick, which had been knocked down illegally.” 

Camden Council said the analysis of the data does not show how many of the reported breaches were legitimate infringements, and that duplicate complaints are often received about the same breach.