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SUN Campaign History - May 1997

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National Trust get away with blatant abuse of planning law

We were greatly encouraged to get a letter (finally) from Purbeck District Council Planning Department in reply to a letter we wrote to them in November 1996.

Planning permission required for red posts - Trust give 14 days to apply

In their reply, they stated that they had inspected the marker posts erected by the National Trust and determined that planning permission was required, and that the Trust had been given fourteen days to apply for it, in default of which the matter would be referred to the Planning Committee for enforcement action, i.e., to make an order for the posts to be removed.

Recommendation to enforce planning watered down to 'no further action'

We were therefore hopeful that at the very least the Trust would be hauled over the coals, our best case scenario being of course that the Council would order all the posts removed. However, by the time the matter reached the Planning Committee at the end of May, the planning officer had "had a meeting" with Property Manager Julian Homer and the recommendation had been watered down to no further action.

SUN not allowed to speak at planning meeting

In the event a sanitised version of events was presented to the councillors, only one of whom appeared to be in the least sympathetic to our objections; we were not allowed to speak at the meeting and a great deal of information - number of posts, their size, etc., - was not presented despite having been sent in to the planning department in plenty of time. Over 60 members responded to our circular and wrote to the Council: to those members, thanks for trying, and thank you also to all those who sent me copies of their letters and the Council's replies.

Councillors express 'hope' scaffold posts would be replaced with wooden ones

We shall never know what enabled the National Trust to get away with what we perceive as abuse of planning law. Possibly as a sop to us, the councillors did express the "hope" that the ultra-hideous and extremely hazardous metal posts - lengths of scaffold pole, apparently - would be replaced with wooden ones, but there was no element of compulsion in this and it is unlikely that the National Trust will comply.

However, we have no intention of giving up.


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