Thursday 14 January 2010

The Declaration Of Cromwell (Road)

The interweb is a fantastic invention. In the old days, if members of the public wanted to inspect a planning application, they would have to make a personal visit to the council’s offices. Today, all it takes is a one handed mouse click to view the details of any current application, including this one and this one.

Not only can you now inspect documents on-line, but you can also download a copy of the actual planning application itself, like this one submitted in respect of 60 Cromwell Road, Friern Barnet.

On the face of it, this appears to be a pretty ordinary planning application submitted by a Mr Wahed on behalf of his client Mr Antoniou, who is seeking a change of use for the building so that he can operate his business as a car mechanic and MOT centre. Mr Antoniou’s application states that he is looking to increase the number of staff he employs from his current premises, so the very best of luck to him!

What is not apparent from the application, however, is that the building is partly owned by warden snatcher Lynne Hillan, leader of Barnet Council. According to Land Registry records, the building used to be owned by Ashurst Direct Marketing Ltd, the company which Hillan ran into the ground leaving behind a trail of creditors including the taxman. Land Registry now records that the property is owned by a company called Silverdale Ltd which, according to the latest Annual Return filed at Companies House, is 50% owned by Hillan.

When you submit a planning application, you are required to sign a Certificate of Ownership. Mr Wahed has signed Certificate A which means that either his client owns the freehold of the building (which he does not) or he has a lease of at least 7 years outstanding. Land Registry rules require all leases of 7 years and above to be registered, but there is no lease registered against this property. This means that either the Land Registry records are incorrect or Mr Antoniou’s lease has not yet been registered.

Another possible explanation is that Mr Wahed might have mistakenly completed Certificate A instead of Certificate B, which shows the property owner’s details.

Of course, there is no suggestion of any impropriety whatsoever and no doubt Cllr Hillan will welcome the opportunity to notify council officers of her interest in the property before a decision is taken whether or not to grant planning consent.

If nothing else, this planning application puts an end to the scurrilous rumour that Cllr Hillan wanted to pull the building down and build much needed rabbit hutches flats in its place. It was clearly just a coincidence that she recently lobbied David Cameron to change the planning rules if the Conservatives win the General Election.

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