Friday 10 June 2016

Please Hang Up And Try Again

The Blessed Authority's bumbling planning department plunged to new depths of incompetence this week when it decided that using a former phone box as a community information kiosk was "a material change of use requiring planning consent."

Our researchers had a quick look at the relevant legislation, and confirmed that Part 12 Class A of the General Development Order expressly permits parish councils to provide information kiosks under permitted development. But Officers were quick to invoke the Pikeman Principle, which states that planning laws do not apply to organisations which call themselves National Parks. Especially ones who have a large planning department and not enough planning applications to justify it.

"Under the Authority's Equal Persecution Policy, we can't be seen to be unduly lenient with parish councils," said a Blessed Spokesperson, "and - in the interests of fairness and transparency - we must ensure that we place as many arbitrary obstacles in their way as we do for boatyards and home owners. Where our policy conflicts with legislation, we may use 'differential interpretation' to justify our position, rather than admit that we might be wrong."

Providing information kiosks is a statutory function of parish councils, so Halvergate PC adopted the phone box, thinking it would be a good community use for an attractive but obsolete piece of history. But Blessed officers insisted that they should have been consulted - “We know all about information centres; in fact we've closed several over the years” they said.

The Blessed Authority have now designated the phone box as a Community Asset, giving the community the right to buy the phone box so that it can be retained as a 'payphone' (Google it, kids). "It doesn't matter that nobody needs phone boxes anymore" said the blessed spokesperson, “we must still preserve them for posterity - along with other anachronisms such as our planning department. Therefore, we will require a heritage statement to demonstrate how the proposed information kiosk would relate to the Halvergate Conservation Area, as well as an ecological survey, a landscaping plan, a traffic impact survey and of course a flood risk assessment including a flood evacuation plan.


"Given the high probability of roosting bats in the phone box," continued the officer, "a protected species survey will be required. If there is no evidence of bats, then they will need to be encouraged using bat bricks, meaning that the development cannot be used during the roosting season of March to October. The information kiosk will of course still be available for use during the 4 months of winter."

Finally, the Blessed Authority will require a lengthy set of planning conditions to ensure that there are plenty of opportunities for future enforcement action if officers run out of work in the future, as seems to be the case right now.

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