Planning Control: Enforcement

Originally written for the BCAAC

An unfortunate part of looking after the conservation areas is enforcement – pursuing legal action against those that breach planning law in the area.

Along with other local groups and residents we help by picking up on breaches and reporting them to Camden, the local authority, who then pursue enforcement.

There are two types of offenders – those who simply didn’t know the restrictions on property alterations in a Conservation Area and make a genuine mistake, and those who purposely make alterations hoping that Camden will not get around to enforcement or will consider the infringement too minor to pursue. Part of the reason for this website is to help those who might accidentally make illegal alterations understand what is and is not permitted, and what consequences may follow after illegal alterations.

A large number of offences relate to shopfronts. Shopfront applications are often rejected on the grounds that they are detrimental to the conservation area. Surprisingly often, individuals make the rejected changes anyway, or may even go further than the rejected application! There are a number of particularly problematic businesses that make repeated illegal alterations even after enforcement action has been threatened.

Many proprietors don’t seem to realise that with Google Streetview we have an annual survey of shopfronts which allows us to determine when a shopfront has been altered within a year, and if the unauthorised alteration has taken place the past five years Camden will be notified and enforcement will be pursued.

If you notice any breaches of planning control, you can get in contact with us so that we can notify Camden. Look out particularly for new shopfronts which are generally ‘over-the-top’ with bright illumination and internally lit signs. Often the chief offenders are chains who seek to impose their ‘brand identity’ on a building without regard for whether it is appropriate for the area (which it is almost always not), and ‘Tourist Shops’ which over-clutter their facades in an effort to be more eye-catching for tourists, despite such practice generally achieving the opposite.