‘Conservation officers are not doing their job properly’.
That was the verdict of a Mansfield councillor after a routine planning application for a new shop front sparked a lengthy debate at Mansfield District Council’s planning committee this week.
The retrospective application was for a powder-coated metal front for the Post Office on Warsop’s High Street, which had been recommended for refusal by the council’s conservation officers amidst claims it was contrary to the conservation policies set out by the council.
But a number of councillors attacked the recommendation, fearing the stringent guidelines could eventually drive the business, and others, out of the area.
Committee member Coun Andy Wetton said: “It’s a joke that this has been brought forward as a refusal, the Post Office is important and to put this sort of restriction on it could end up with this premises closing.
“It’s been handled badly from the start, but I don’t think conservation officers are doing their job properly.”
Most committee members seemed to agree that the changes improved the look of the building, but it was pointed out that the conservation officers were only following guidelines agreed by the council.
But as another example of retrospective planning, with the work being carried out more than three years ago, Coun Christine Smith said it set a dangerous precedence.
She said: “Some retailers will always try to blackmail planning committees into letting them do what they want or threaten to go elsewhere.
“This is an unauthorised shop front and they know full well they need to get in touch with the council.”
Seven of the 11 members voted to reject the conservation officers’ recommendations.
A new proposal to grant planning permission was then passed.