I'm just back from attending the Planning Applications Committee having argued against it granting permission for the old Post office, at 127 Brackenbury Road, to be turned into a 24/7 mini-cab outlet. The application was refused - which will be a relief for most of the local residents my fellow ward councillors and I represent in the area.
I had insisted that this decision was considered by the Planning Committee instead of being made by council officers - under 'delegated powers' - after being contacted by many concerned local residents. H&F's planning officers recommended that the committee granted the applicant’s request for a nominal period of eighteen months. They also suggested conditions to the licence that would forbid the premises being used as a pick-up point for passengers or as a resting point for cars. However, it became clear that that these were standard conditions and that none of the officers serving the committee tonight had any knowledge of them ever being enforced. The Committee was surprised to see that there was a waiting area for passengers on the plans being presented. Cllr. Mike Cartwright (Lab) told the room that he understood that these conditions were routinely ignored by mini-cab business owners. Mike also made the point that H&F Council has previously said that it wanted to protect small retail outlets and allowing the change of use this application required would be contrary to that aim.
I had called several mini-cab offices in the area to research the nature of the business and discovered that they can operate up to fifty cars from any given outlet. One local mini-cab manager told me the 9.00pm to 4.00am shift from Thursday to Saturday nights was “very lively”. The Brackenbury Road/Aldensley Road junction is a relatively peaceful part of our borough – particularly since the introduction of the 20mph Home Zone. If this license had been granted it would have blighted this residential area with increased noise, traffic and anti-social behaviour. I am pleased that the committee members unanimously agreed with these points and turned it down. They'll publish the official explanation of their decision within the next few days.