Lofty ambition to clarify extension rules

By James Martin, Haringey, May 28, 2009

Haringey’s strictly Orthodox community is being consulted over new guidelines clarifying the council’s position on loft extensions.

At a meeting with 30 members of the South Tottenham kehillah, Haringey’s chief planning officer Marc Dorfman said the aim was to produce design plans showing what constituted “an acceptable extension”. The council wants to avoid legal battles such as the recent court case with local businessman David Kahn over a loft extension built in contravention of planning permission. Mr Kahn was ordered to pay £2,500 costs, but could have received an unlimited fine or been ordered to restore the property to its original format.

Mr Dorfman was asked by Mark Gross — who acts as a liaison between the community and the council — to look sympathetically on the space requirements of “ 600 very large Jewish families”. He replied that rear extensions were “generally okay” but questioned the permissibility of loft extensions, “particularly square roofs”.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Dorfman acknowledged a lack of clarity in past council policy attempting “to strike a balance between the needs of the family and preserving the character of the road”. He hoped the consultations would bring the introduction of clearer guidelines.

In a further conciliatory move, Councillor Joe Goldberg, representing Seven Sisters ward, said Haringey would try to provide the kehillah’s under-16s with free same-sex swimming sessions. Charedi children cannot take advantage of the existing swimming provision as it is open to both boys and girls.

“One possibility is to use a local school a couple of evenings a week,” the councillor said. “There are also Muslims who don’t engage in mixed swimming, so they would benefit.”

The meeting, held at South Tottenham Synagogue, was the opening stage in a nine-month consultation between Haringey and residents groups.

Council leader Claire Kober said: “This consultation is the first step in ensuring the needs of the South Tottenham kehillah are met. It will then be incorporated into our 15- year strategy which will be implemented next year after extensive consultation with all groups in the borough.”

Last updated: 11:33am, May 28 2009