Babergh District Council’s planning department has taken some flak in recent months, accused of being unnecessarily obstructive and making questionable decisions.
In the interests of giving the council a fair hearing and getting a more balanced perspective, I write of three cases in my own village this year for readers to consider.
Case 1: One of our villagers took it upon himself to remove the asbestos roof of his garage (without recourse to the usual safety palaver), so that he could demolish it and build an extension on the side of his house.
Having completed this, he had the hindsight to apply for planning permission and, chose to tick “no” when asked if the work had already been started, presumably to avoid confusing the planning enforcement officers who’d been out to view the finished article.
Now, the parish council was inclined to take a rather dim view of all this but not so Babergh’s planning committee, which passed the application without even feeling the need to do so retrospectively, thus conveniently expediting the sale of the property which the applicant already had under way.
Case 2: Another family moving into a property within the conservation area of the village proceeded to demolish a small outbuilding for which they had no use and then take down several of the trees in their grounds, grinding out the stumps for good measure.
They too found themselves on the receiving end of a visit from planning enforcement officers who pointed out that no permission had been sought to do this – but no matter, no action would be taken as it was done now.
Case 3: The much-publicised improvement and development at Brookwood Manor care home began three days after a planning application was passed with the hitherto unmentioned removal of many of the original leaded light windows in order to replace them with white plastic frames and plain glazing.
This looks somewhat at odds with the period of the property and necessitated yet another trip out by the planning enforcement officers.
Having ascertained that no consultation had been made with the planning department prior to this happening, and that the work could have required permission beforehand, they concluded that it would not be expedient to take any further action.
It seems to me that the mistake people who feel obstructed are making is to bombard the planners beforehand with details of what they intend to do, presumably fearing the consequences if they don’t, instead of just getting on and doing whatever it is they want to achieve in the knowledge that they’ll probably get away with it.