onsdag 6 februari 2008

Brighton's incompetent planners



Last year I applied for planning permission to change some windows in a flat in a 1960s block. Most of them have already been changed, without permission. I was refused even though the flat is at the back and cannot be seen from the street. In the reasons for refusal the planners said it was in the Avenues conservation area, whereas in fact it is in another one, the Willett. This is not just a quibble as these 1960s blocks are specifically referred to as spoiling the character of the conservation area. There is a policy in Brighton that windows in buildings which contribute to the conservation area should be put back as they were originally, but it expressly states that it applies to those buildings which contribute to the character of the conservation area. This it clearly does not apply to 1960s buildings in a Victorian area. Perhaps there ought to be a policy for such buildings but there is not, and since the planners have had 20 years to introduce one, it is obviously not a priority.

I have appealed, and in my statement, I mentioned that the planners had made a mistake about which conservation area it is in, but in their response, they still say it is in Avenues area. The incompetence of these people is amazing.

Admittedly the planner dealing with the case is a trainee and from abroad, but who is supervising him? And in any case a street map is a street map in any language, and map reading is a basic skill for the job. If a trainee planner cannot read a map he should give up trying to become a planner and try doing something else.

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Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor

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