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Planning and Paintball

I have just washed the pink paint out of my hair. For my now 12 year old's 12th Birthday we took him and 10 of his friends to paintball in Thornbury. Much that headshots did not count that did not prevent me being splattered on my head by 150 mph paintballs which went through the visor into my hair.

Good fun for the kids much that it is ironic how much effort goes into warning people in a war game not to slip in the mud and hurt themselves.

Being one to see these things I noted that they had set up in business and then applied for planning permission - with the argument that now people know what it is if they object. It seems that if they don't get permission then it won't cost them that much just to close down after 2 years trading.

The planning laws can be quite complex and challenging in those situations. I am still having a bit of a discussion with the Council following the local elections as to whether or not I have planning permission for one of my buildings.

The point about planning permission is that it applies not only when you make building alterations of some substance (much that there are changes that can be made without permission such as small extensions), but also when the use of the building changes in some ways.

Some changes require permission, others don't. Ie if a bookshop wants to sell hardware there is no change of use, but if it wants to sell fish and chips there is.

There is a further complication in that in fact if someone stops using a building in a particular way then the permission can go. Furthermore generally what the building was used for "10 years ago" takes precedent over the actual permissions.

This all arose because Labour complained about whether or not one of the candidates in Moseley had permission to live where she lived. This was in a property which has had a staff flat for decades. They also complained about some dormant companies having a registered office there. Labour's interest in this issue disappeared after the local elections, but I have taken up the issue wanting to clarify the situation.

All the information as to what the property was used for was provided to the planning department about 3 months ago and they cannot as yet tell me whether I have permission or not. This is ironic in that if I had applied for permission they would have a deadline of about 2 months on deciding.

There is some embarrassment afoot for some because letters were written to Labour implying that there was no permission based upon papers from 1959 (well before the "10 years ago" date).

The problem for me is, however, that the Standards Board get stressed about these sorts of things so I may have to take this through a long and tortuous legal process rather than simply apply for permission - if the council believes I have not got permission. It remains, however, that I believe on the basis of evidence that I am merely continuing the types of uses that have occurred in the past.

(eg residential flat, music studio, "non residential institution")


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