Planning loophole used to build a ‘wall of sheeting’ blighting gardens

Nusrat Ghani
WALL OF POLYTHENE: The structure seen from neighbours’ gardens in Bedford Road

The 200 sq m white scaffold structure appeared overnight at the rear of Ability heating and plumbing engineers in London Road.

The firm has now been criticised by local residents for taking advantage of loopholes in planning legislation that enabled them to erect the ‘monstrosity’ without any consultation or permission.

One neighbour, who we have chosen not to name, told the Times: “I woke up to workmen banging out the back. When I eventually went into my garden, I couldn’t believe it.”

She said the towering structure stretches the length of the communal garden of a property in Bedford Road that she shares with other tenants.

“You can’t see anything in the garden as it blocks all the light. It is ludicrous that they are allowed to build it there without any permission,” she added.

She said residents had asked the council whether the structure needed planning permission and were told that because it is temporary it did not.

“The council said it could stay for two months, but it is still there. It is making our lives miserable,” she added. “We now learn that he [the owner] has applied for planning permission, which means it could be here for months, even years.”

The owner of the plumbing firm, Daniel Moon, has asked the council to allow the structure to stay for up to two years.

He says in his application that his company – which describes itself on its website as ‘a genuine family-run company’ that ‘works hard to provide a personal service to both our regular and new customers’ – needs the temporary building for storage.

A spokesperson for Tunbridge Wells Borough Council said: “A retrospective planning application has been submitted requesting temporary permission for the scaffold structure.

“This application is now being considered by planning officers and a decision is expected to be reached by the end of September.

“Anyone wishing to make representations about the application can do so through the Council’s website.”

Daniel Moon, of Ability Plumbing Heating Electrical, said he was unaware of the effect his temporary storage shed has had on local residents.

He told the Times: “I don’t want to upset anybody, but nobody has come and said anything to me about it.

“The temporary scaffolding is there to provide shelter for vehicle loading and unloading.

“We have outgrown our base here in London Road, that’s why it is a temporary application, even though we have asked for planning permission for two years it may be a lot less than that as it will come down as soon as we have found new premises.”

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