Saturday, 5 January 2013

Kitchen flooring fail - but which bit and why ?

17 years ago we had our kitchen extended and fitted out and this included Amtico floor tiles .  We've been very happy with them - when the floor is stripped back and redone it comes up (almost) as new. Its a solid floor , laid on a DPC - I know because I saw the builder do it- and then flooring laid on top of that.

But we've noticed a problem recently ( perhaps the last couple of years). It started at the edge  of the room but is now affecting some tiles not at the edge.

The tiles are  curling and lifting.

Ive gently prised back a couple of the most affected where the tiles have already lifted s and here are  the photos.

 it looks like self-levelling compound that is cracking and/or disintegrating .

But why ? and what to do about it ?

Thursday, 3 January 2013

I dont believe it !

Last year there was a planning application by Shepherd offshore  to put a whole host of housing on the site of La Sagesse School. Details and links and stuff is available on the Jesmond Action Group website . The Council came to the correct decision and rejected it.  I  haven't been following this obsessively closely - but I think The original Application from October 2011  is  this one  for 60  dwellings.

As expected, Shepherd Offshore came back with another  application which I think is this one- the  headline number on the application if for 59  dwellings .

There is an extra meeting of the pLanning Committee tomorrow ( 4th january) .
 See this - its my dormer , erected in 1995.

Hmmmm. I bet they didnt even think about putting an a special meeting for me when my rear dormer had to go to planning twice before getting approval. What has Shepherd got that I havent ?  

The decision from the planners to approve this 2nd application seems perverse to me. There are only a few cosmetic  changes to the application , it still puts a load of  un-needed housing on an attractive site , detracts from Jesmond Towers building  and will be an ugly blot in one of the most densely populated Wards in the City.

 And Jesmond Action Group  are on to it . They too think its perverse , but their advantage is that they have a couple of lawyers involved.  So there has been some correspondence with the Council  - I'll watch out on the JAG website for them to appear .

But  there is acopy of the email that has gone to councillors

Dear Councillors

I am unsure whether you will have received a copy of the letter from Kath Lawless sent to our Group dated 3rd January 2013.  I attach a copy .  This letter is in response to our letter to the Council dated 31st December 2012.  I attach a copy of that letter too for ease of reference.

If you have not already had an opportunity to do so, I urge you to read these 2 letters side-by-side.  Once you have done so, I hope that you will reach the same conclusion that we have, which is that Kath Lawless's letter simply brushes-over the specific legal arguments that we raise, and does not even begin to address them.

I do not know what qualifications Kath Lawless has, but she has many years of experience, and is clearly highly qualified in Planning matters.  However, I do not think that she is a lawyer. (my apologies if she is)  I  am dually qualified as a barrister and as a solicitor.  The arguments that we raised in our letter, were legal arguments that will give grounds for Judicial Review.  Kath Lawless has responded with the best intentions, but she has not addressed any of the legal arguments.  Crucially, neither has she argued why, in the opinion of the Council, our legal arguments should not apply.  As a lawyer, I am happy to have my opinions swayed by persuasive legal arguments.  In this case, I have to confirm to you that our legal arguments remain as strong as they were when our letter was drafted.  With the greatest respect to Kath Lawless, she is wrong in her interpretation of the law and planning policy; the Council should have engaged a barrister or a solicitor to respond to our letter.

My conduct as a solicitor is regulated by The Solicitors Regulation Authority. (SRA)  The SRA rules specifically prohibit me from raising spurious legal arguments if it is plain that those arguments have no foundation.  If I were to raise such arguments, the SRA have the power to bring disciplinary proceedings against me, and apply sanctions.

If the Planning Committee are minded to grant this application tomorrow, the Council will still face the litigation and costs risks that were set out in our letter of 31st December 2012.  Those risks remain undiminished.  You have an opportunity to reduce that risk by amending the application in line with paragraph 33 of our letter.  You have an opportunity to extinguish the risk entirely by voting against the applications.  The applicant can still come back another day, with a fresh application that complies with the relevant planning policies and legislation.

 I cant get to the meeting tomorrow ( if i wasnt working i would have gone ) , but I'll watch with interest.

And  a few more thoughts.

- I'm happy to chip to a 'fighting fund' to take this to Judicial Review  if necessary
- If approved, Labour   must have a death-wish as far as North jesmond Councillors are concerned.  They will get as big a well-deserved kicking locally as the LibDems will nationally  in a General Election.

And i'll happily do my ( non-party) bit to ensure that the ruling Labour Group get well and truly kicked.