Using Section 215 to improve the condition and appearance of our town centres
Lancaster City Council is working to make the centres of Morecambe and Lancaster better places to be in. Unfortunately a number of buildings in our centres are letting the side down. The council will use its statutory planning powers to address these areas of untidy land or buildings.
Why do we need to do this?
The appearance of property can really affect people's perception of an area. Buildings in poor repair and maintenance can make people feel negative about that area. This is especially true for visitors. It may impact upon how much time people will spend in a place and also how often and whether at all they will make a repeat visit.
An environment that is a bit run down and not so attractive in turn discourages investment. A spiral of decline can set in that can end up with places feeling unsafe and threatening. Conversely, places that are cared for and look good encourage people to spend more time in the place. This can make places feel safer, drive up custom and in turn can encourage investment.
How are we going to do this?
Where we think properties adversely affect the amenity of the area, we will ask owners / and or occupiers to remedy this. We will try to encourage this on a voluntary basis and provide as much guidance as we can. Where appropriate however we will enforce action by using powers under Section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act (1990).
What is Section 215?
Section 215 is a planning power that enables local authorities to take enforcement action against owners / occupiers of land and buildings that, by virtue of their condition and appearance are considered to have an adverse affect on the amenity of an area.
A notice under Section 215 sets out what works need to be done to rectify matters and crucially the date by which the works need to be done. This deadline should always provide a reasonable amount of time for the works to be completed.
If the owner or occupier fails to carry out the works specified within the prescribed time period, the council has the power either to prosecute or, where appropriate, to carry out the works itself. The council can seek to recover the costs through the county court or by placing a charge on the property through HM Land Registry to recover the costs should the property be sold.
What works might it involve?
Much of the work required should involve general maintenance such as repairing and re-painting fascias, windows, gutters and downpipes and removing vegetation and debris. Ensuring properties are kept in a good state of repair can also save property owners and occupiers problems with their buildings in the future. This can also save money in the long term too.
Where are we targeting?
The town centres of Morecambe and Lancaster are our priorities and we will survey these in phases. This may take some time but the council is committed to ensuring that everyone plays their part in making our centres better places to live, work, visit or trade in.
Much of our town centres are also designated as Conservation Areas, so the work will also help to safeguard some of our historic buildings. There are also a range of guidance notes available for owners of listed buildings or properties in Conservation Areas which can provide further advice about looking after these buildings.
What about the rest of the district?
This initiative involves the council using its statutory planning powers in a pro-active way. Along side this the council will still be dealing with other issues relating to untidy land across the district .
Contact us on 01524 582642 or email email@example.com.
Last updated: 08 November 2017