Crossgate Community Partnership

Article 4 direction for the Viaduct/Western Hill area

Letter to Durham County Council’s head of planning

March 2011

Dear Mr Timmiss,
The Crossgate Community Partnership has asked me to write to convey our strong opinion that the Article 4 Direction for the Viaduct/Western Hill area should be fast-tracked.

As I am sure you are aware, in 2007 the former City of Durham Council gave notice to residents within the Viaduct/Western Hill area to serve a direction Under Article 4 of the General Permitted Development Order 1995. The Direction removed certain permitted development rights for various residential properties within a number of streets including Flass Street, Sutton Street, Albert Street, Waddington Street and Mowbray Street. The purpose of this was to safeguard the character of these relatively unaltered buildings by requiring planning applications to be made for those changes specified in the Direction. Although the Article 4 was served by the Council on the 6th December 2007 and the direction came into force on the day the householder received the notice, it was to remain in operation for a trial period of 6 months, this is stated within the “information for householders” documents which were attached to the original letters. The 6 months was to allow for a consultation exercise to be carried out, after this time provided that there were no strong objections or complications the article was to be confirmed and then remain in force. We understand there were no objections, just requests for clarification.

However the City Council failed to confirm the article within the require timeframe. This matter was considered by the meeting of the Crossgate Community partnership on March1st, which I chaired, and they asked me to write to you. We are aware that an Article 4 direction requires a robust evidence base, however this was obtained in 2007 before the City Council served the Article 4 notices. The necessary research was carried out by the City Council (Simon Hickman and Michael Hurlow, I believe) and four volunteers from the CCP: Ann and Desmond Evans, Michael Costello and Jacqueline Levitas.

It is the firm view of CCP that the Article 4 Direction for this particular area should be fast-tracked. The research has already been done and it is our view, informed by the people who carried out the original research, that this can be checked to discover what changes have happened in the past 3½ years and then updated to reflect the current position. It should not be necessary to re-do the exercise from scratch for this particular area.

The unitary authority that came into being on 1 April 2009 may be called Durham County Council, but it is the successor in every respect to the City Council and has taken on all of its responsibilities, which includes correcting this serious omission by its predecessor. This is best done by fast-tracking the application of the Article 4 in this area. Currently changes are being made to properties (namely the installation of uPVC windows) which are detrimental to the appearance of these streets. The Article 4 direction would check this. I am sure you appreciate that the active involvement of this body in the research for the aborted Article 4 direction gives us a particular interest in seeing this unsatisfactory state of affairs corrected without any further delay. I look forward to hearing from you that this will be done.

Yours sincerely,
Roger Cornwell
Chair, Crossgate Community Partnership
cc Ann and Desmond Evans, Michael Costello, Jacqueline Levitas, Roberta Blackman-Woods MP