Episode 1 The Planners


Episode 1

Series following those who make planning decisions. Three national house builders proposing to build over 500 homes in a greenfield site meet severe opposition from locals.


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Transcript


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Britain is a green and pleasant land but for how long?

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We're now getting to a situation where any sites

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worth putting a planning application in for...

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After the biggest shake-up of the planning system in 40 years,

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the race is on to get Britain building.

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If I have a house here, I'm thinking about building a sort of Berlin Wall.

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It's got to be at least six feet high.

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So constructors are making plans.

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Whoever designed that needs to be shot.

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Objectors are making noises.

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I've bloody enough of it with what we've got in this town

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-for councillors and the load of

-BLEEP

-they're putting up.

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And neighbours are going to war.

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We always won our battles as a family. We'll win this one.

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In the firing line, shaping the country of the future

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are Britain's planners.

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Nothing happens in the hall, yeah? No, yes, no, yes?

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Thank you for letting us visit and we'll see you on Thursday.

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Another British planning cock-up, really.

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Whoa!

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Across the country, planning regulations are being relaxed

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to encourage construction.

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The government wants building to kick-start the economy, so land

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that was previously protected is now being considered for development.

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In West Cheshire, the council has a target of 5,000 new homes

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in the next five years.

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Fiona Edwards is the head planner.

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We're not boring, we're really exciting people.

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My team and I, we love our jobs, we like the difference

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we can make to developments. We like hopefully making things better.

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I think it's probably the most exciting time to be a planner.

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Today, Fiona is in Winsford, considering an application

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to build on farmland.

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My goodness, hang on!

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This is obviously where people walk their dogs

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and they're not particularly considerate about it.

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Three developers want to build 540 houses on the edge of the town.

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This has always been farmland, it's always been green open land.

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A lot of people would say we shouldn't be losing it,

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that we should protect this at all costs

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but I suppose the question you ask yourself as a planner -

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in the drive to meet with the government's targets,

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where do we put all these sites?

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Changes in the law mean even farmland can be built on

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if it's near enough to existing communities.

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I think without a doubt it's going to be controversial.

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You only have to have a look at the size of it -

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there's a lot of land here, and these properties in particular,

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they've had open aspect views over farmland,

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some of those properties for possibly 100 years.

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People are very protective of their views and their landscape.

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Hello. Grab a seat!

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A big thanks to you all for turning up

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on a glorious evening tonight. I'm sure there's lots of other things

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you could be doing on a lovely hot evening.

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When news of the application was made public,

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an action group was formed to fight any development.

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I used to play in these fields. We used to make dens out of the hay.

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You know, the animals.

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I just had such a happy childhood being in this area.

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Sandra lives with her son in a house overlooking

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the site of the proposed development.

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That was my bedroom as a child.

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I've always had that view of those fields all of my life.

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Sandra's not alone.

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Eight members of her family live on the same road.

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I've been here about 40 years.

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-It's more than that, Dad.

-It might be.

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-Maybe 50 years.

-Shut up!

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I'm just sad that they might end up looking at houses.

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They've chosen to live here because it was quiet,

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it's beautiful countryside.

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I've got to do it, I've got to do it for them.

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Your home, your front door

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is probably the most important thing to you and if that's threatened,

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people get very, very emotionally bound up in the whole process

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and it can be something as simple

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as your neighbours having a conservatory,

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or something as controversial as putting 540 houses

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on greenfield sites like this.

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Sandra and her neighbours need strong planning reasons

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to get the houses refused,

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and start by focusing on the loss of wildlife habitats.

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The developers actually say they want to create natural habitats,

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but they'll just disappear.

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I saw a barn owl down here on Friday night.

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They're rare, they're thin on the ground.

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I've been in the countryside and worked in farming all my life

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and I've only seen about six barn owls.

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Some of this wildlife could be ancestors go back hundreds of years.

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You wouldn't like to be kicked out of your house, would you?

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Great crested newts are rumoured to live in the pond,

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and they're protected under planning law.

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Developers face fines of up to £5,000

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if they damage a newt's habitat,

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but the objectors need to find evidence that they're present.

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Mathew's found something.

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They live in that, that's dragonfly larvae.

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It's alive with animals, pond life etc,

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so if they're in there, the newts are going to be in there somewhere.

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What's that?

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It's come this way.

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That was a baby newt, whether it was a crested newt...

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Where the hell's he gone?

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It is interesting when you see people's reactions

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when they find out about a planning application behind their house.

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They never voice or articulate

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"I don't want a house being built behind me."

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They always say things like "There must be great crested newts here."

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People come up with all sorts of ideas

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that you would never think of in a month of Sundays.

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Everybody suddenly becomes a planning expert.

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They want my job and think they can do it a lot better than I can.

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Maybe they can, you never know.

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See, he could be in here. He could have gone in them roots.

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But if the newts do live in the pond,

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they're keeping a frustratingly low profile.

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Just bringing it round now.

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Wildlife's a funny thing, aren't they?

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That's why they're wild cos they know we're here,

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cos they can hear us talking so they could be hiding

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in the shallows, round the corner, anywhere.

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The objectors have another card up their sleeve - archaeology.

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We're not powerful enough. We can't fight in the courts

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with their banks of lawyers and barrister,

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with their millions of pounds. We're just ordinary people

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who have got a little voice and we're trying to...

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Yes, clutching at straws trying to find some reason to hold them up.

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That's a spindle whorl - it could be of archaeological interest.

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With no sign of newts or anything of archaeological significance,

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Sandra and the objectors have eight weeks to find something else

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if they're going to stop the housing plans.

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New development doesn't have to be on a grand scale

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to upset the neighbours.

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Sometimes the smallest changes can cause the greatest upset.

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In Cheltenham, this 1930s semi is home to 87-year-old Mary Yeates.

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This room is really like its own little world.

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I just condensed everything into this room.

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I've got my music centre, I've got my television.

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It really is my own little muck heap then

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if you'd like to put it like that.

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Mary has mobility problems so spends all of her time in her back room,

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only leaving her favourite armchair once a week to go shopping.

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I tell you what really does get my goat,

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that's Prime Minister's Question Times.

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I keep a collection of socks rolled up here

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that I throw at the television.

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Well, you've got to get your own back somehow, haven't you?

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But Mary's world may be about to change.

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Her neighbours have applied for planning permission

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to build an extension four metres long and 3.7 metres high

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at the back of their house.

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Mary is objecting.

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See how light it is here now?

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This is what it's going to be like if that wall goes up.

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And straight away you're in the dark.

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That's a big difference. There's no way I could read or anything.

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The size of the extension means planning permission is needed.

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That means Mary can formally object.

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I was a bit concerned about the overall height and the relationship

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it will have on this window and this quite small room.

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So now it's down to Cheltenham's chief planner, Rob Lindsey,

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and planning officer Rachel Adams to decide if construction can go ahead.

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I am more than willing to go and look at the site and judge it.

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We're here to balance the interests

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between the person who wants to build and the person alongside.

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It's important to try and make the right decision.

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That man's mowing. They must have a game tonight.

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If the extension causes too much loss of light,

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then the application could be rejected.

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-He's rolling the wicket.

-What is it, Friday?

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Mary's daughter Pauline and her husband think they've come up

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with a way to convince the planners that the extension is too big.

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I made a frame up to hover up there roughly to the height

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so as we can see when the council planning officer comes round,

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how much light we'll lose in the dining room.

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Rachel has already carried out light tests which suggest

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the shadow would be acceptable.

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Rob has agreed to provide a second opinion on-site.

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Morning. I'm Robert Lindsey from the planning office, hello.

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-Your hands are cold.

-They are, aren't they!

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It's quite a cold day actually. Right, you know why we're here,

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we're judging the effect of that extension on the light.

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Mary and her family are hoping the mock-up will sway Rob.

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Can I just come and sit or kneel next door to you

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so that I can look at it from your perspective? Thanks.

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Right.

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I think, I'm sorry to say, that my view is that is not something

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we could recommend refusal for.

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I feel that the impact on your room isn't enough for us to refuse it.

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It's very helpful having your full-scale mock up there

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but you've got a curved window

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which is actually admitting a lot of light. You will lose some light.

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Yes, that's what we're saying.

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They do prefer to have a pitched roof.

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They're going to have light into their dining room

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but Mother is going to lose her light in here.

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You know, it's all right for them to have their light

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but we can't have ours.

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-I think it's a whitewash. I do.

-I can assure you it isn't.

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I've got very little time for Cheltenham Planning or Tewkesbury Planning.

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OK, but the reason we are here is to make a sensible judgement,

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-not to whitewash it.

-As far as I'm concerned, that is a whitewash.

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We're here to understand the issues.

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If you allow something like that, it's disgusting.

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It just seems a bit unfair.

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I accept that you...feel that, yes.

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I do feel quite angry about it and even more so now than I did before.

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In over 90% of cases, the planners would make the final decision,

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but in this case, Rob and Rachel will only recommend.

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In the face of such strong feeling, Rob has decided

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that the application will be determined by the elected members

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of the council's planning committee when they meet in two weeks' time.

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See you on the 17th. Bye.

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Rob's been a planner for 38 years.

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He's met his fair share of angry neighbours.

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People do get emotional

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and they get upset about change that they can't control.

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So being caught in the middle is part of the stock in trade

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of a planning officer.

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My first boss used to say, in parties,

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that he was a local manager for Berni Inns,

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which always struck me as quite inventive.

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Conservation areas like Pittville in Cheltenham,

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where properties often change hands for over a million,

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have particularly strict planning rules to preserve their historic character.

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I very much like living here.

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It's an ideal mix for me of town and country living

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and I love my house. We spent a lot of time and money renovating it.

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Geraldine Beaty owns a Human Resources firm.

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Her Regency five-bedroom semi may have just undergone

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a £200,000 restoration, but to her, it's not quite perfect.

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You'll see how many manoeuvres I have to make.

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It's not a three-point turn. It's about a seven-point turn.

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And this is what I have to do at least twice a day, every single day.

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Very frustrating.

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Where our two cars are currently parked

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is actually what should be our back garden.

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And it's the most sunny part of the garden as well.

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It's the south-facing bit which is added frustration.

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Tired of having to park in her back garden,

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Geraldine set about finding a solution to her problem.

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She didn't have to look very far.

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All of these houses in front of us have multiple car parking in front.

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They all reverse onto the road, they don't have any restrictions

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in terms of what they do and how many cars they have or anything.

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Geraldine has asked for permission from the council

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to have the kerb dropped so she can create a parking space

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to the side of the house, just like her neighbours.

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She has gone to great lengths to make sure

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the planning application is watertight.

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We've employed highways consultants,

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we've employed tree specialists to draw up a plan

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that is going to be amenable to those who make the decisions.

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It's cost us a lot of money. Probably already about £10,000.

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It's an awful lot of money for a parking space

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but it's better than moving house.

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The frustrations of the current arrangements are such that if

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we didn't get this through, we may probably consider moving house.

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The planners handling the application are about to make a site visit.

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As the house is in a conservation area, planner Martin Chandler

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has to consult conservation officer Karen Radford.

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Very nice pair of houses.

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Good condition, good location,

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with a view from over there sort of looking northwards.

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That is quite a prominent location.

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The kerb will be coming in just to the right of this tree.

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The tree will come out and the kerb will run approximately to here.

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The proposal would mean losing the front garden

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and the original layout of the grounds.

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I think this front garden

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and the way it is at the moment really is very nice.

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That will all be lost to hard standing

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because of the turning space that is necessary.

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Cheltenham has clear guidelines on what is

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and isn't allowed in a conservation area.

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Loss of front garden to parking, detracts from historic setting.

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Yes, which is clearly what is proposed here.

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The Planning Listed Building And Conservation Area Act of 1990

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says that the planning authority has the duty to consider it

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so that the conservation area is preserved and enhanced

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and I can't see how this application

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will be preserving and enhancing the conservation area at all.

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I just don't see it.

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Some properties in the road may have got planning permission

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for dropped kerb, some properties in the road may

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historically already have a dropped kerb because they were designed

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to have a horse and carriage going in, therefore a car can go in.

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Just because everybody else has,

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that's not a way that planning policy is determined.

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With planning policy, each application and each situation

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needs to be looked at on its merits.

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Conservation officer Karen is against the dropped kerb,

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so planner Martin is recommending that it be refused.

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Despite the recommendation, Geraldine is determined to continue

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with the application, with the help of another planning consultant.

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It seems that the wall may be a bit of an issue

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as you picked up on as well.

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If they're concerned about demolition

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then we need to tweak that accordingly.

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OK, tweak it in the sense of what?

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They've asked their ward councillor to take the application

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before the planning committee,

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where elected members will decide on her dropped kerb.

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A dropped kerb. It is farcical, laughable,

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ridiculous. Any other adjective you can think of, all of those.

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Now the application is going before the councillors,

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the conservation officer's objections could be overruled.

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In Winsford in Cheshire, Sandra Challinor and her neighbours

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have changed tactics in their efforts to get plans

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for 540 houses rejected.

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They're queuing up here in the morning trying to get out

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but at the moment it's really quiet because it's the holiday time.

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More houses means more cars.

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The objectors are making a video to show their roads

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are already very busy.

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It will be absolute chaos - you're going to have potentially

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another 1,000 cars coming on the roads, from two entrances.

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-It's going to be even worse.

-Easy, yeah.

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In any application involving changes to the highways,

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the planners will always send out their own traffic experts.

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People perceive 540 dwellings

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as creating, you know, potentially everybody's got two cars

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so that could be 800 or 1,000 car movements every day.

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In reality, that doesn't happen.

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There will be some impact, but I think that in most instances,

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for most of the residents, it would be an insignificant and hardly noticeable impact.

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-Good to see you again.

-Good to see you as well.

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Ken's meeting the objectors to explain the work he's done

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to make sure the new road layouts are safe and reduce disruption.

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Could I ask about the access here? Because that's right in front

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of these houses here - is that going to stay the same?

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It is, yeah.

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It doesn't matter where they put it, it's going to upset somebody,

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to a degree. Believe it or not, some people like new accesses

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because it shows them a bit of life outside their lounge window

0:20:300:20:34

and I've had that said to me before. I'm not saying that

0:20:340:20:36

here that would be the case. You can't please everybody all the time,

0:20:360:20:39

we just aim to please as many people as we can.

0:20:390:20:41

-OK, thank you.

-Thank you very much.

-Cheers.

0:20:410:20:44

Thank you very much.

0:20:440:20:46

And you.

0:20:460:20:48

It is good to talk, as...

0:20:480:20:50

Who was it? British Rail once said, "we're getting there".

0:20:500:20:53

Despite Ken's positive spin, Sandra's determined to fight on.

0:20:560:21:01

I still don't want it to happen, even hearing today

0:21:010:21:04

the highway planning officer Ken...

0:21:040:21:08

In my heart I don't want it to happen.

0:21:080:21:10

A peaceful, quiet place is going to be turned into hectic,

0:21:120:21:16

because there's going to be another 6 or 700 cars on the road,

0:21:160:21:21

so it's going to affect everybody round here.

0:21:210:21:25

With specialist reports all supporting the scheme,

0:21:290:21:33

head planner Fiona has reached a recommendation.

0:21:330:21:35

The recommendation on these is for approval.

0:21:350:21:38

Three applications, 540 houses.

0:21:380:21:41

It ticks the boxes - they're sustainable locations

0:21:410:21:44

on the edge of the settlement, they are near to existing services,

0:21:440:21:48

you know, shops, schools, medical facilities

0:21:480:21:51

so it's an ideal area to grow -

0:21:510:21:53

it complies with national policy. No reason to refuse it.

0:21:530:21:56

On large-scale applications with local opposition,

0:21:570:22:01

Fiona can only recommend.

0:22:010:22:03

The decision will be made by the elected councillors who make up

0:22:030:22:06

the planning committee.

0:22:060:22:07

They have the power to go against officer advice.

0:22:070:22:11

For the next few years, Mrs Driver would prove to be

0:22:180:22:22

what some call "the Iron Lady of Cheltenham".

0:22:220:22:25

Barbara Driver is a long-standing member of Cheltenham's

0:22:250:22:29

planning committee.

0:22:290:22:30

I am known for saying what I think.

0:22:300:22:33

Long may I carry on,

0:22:330:22:35

because in planning I've got to get my two cents in

0:22:350:22:39

and stop them doing it.

0:22:390:22:41

Barbara is one of 15 councillors on the planning committee.

0:22:430:22:47

They have the power to overrule

0:22:470:22:49

a professional planning officer's recommendations.

0:22:490:22:52

We are elected onto the council to represent those people

0:22:520:22:57

that elected us.

0:22:570:22:58

The officer's job is the legal end and the business end

0:22:580:23:02

and everything else.

0:23:020:23:04

And we need to just get together on it.

0:23:040:23:06

Barbara, is it a bit of a battle sometimes between you

0:23:090:23:11

-and the officers? You seem to have...

-Well, no, no. Don't think...

0:23:110:23:15

Yes, unofficially!

0:23:160:23:19

Before voting on any application,

0:23:190:23:21

the committee visits every site with the planners.

0:23:210:23:24

Today they're visiting the home of Mary Yeates.

0:23:240:23:27

They need to decide on next door's extension plans.

0:23:270:23:30

Members.

0:23:320:23:33

Hello. We're going into one of the semi-detached properties.

0:23:330:23:37

They're concerned that they're going to lose their amenity

0:23:370:23:41

because of the extension.

0:23:410:23:42

It does pass the daylight test and officers have stood in the room

0:23:420:23:46

and feel that it's not going to be overbearing to their amenity,

0:23:460:23:50

which is why the recommendation is to approve.

0:23:500:23:53

OK, so from this side this is the elevation,

0:23:550:23:59

which the neighbour will see.

0:23:590:24:00

The neighbour has concerns that it's going to be overbearing

0:24:000:24:03

to their living room. Officers believe that it won't,

0:24:030:24:06

which is what members will have to decide at committee.

0:24:060:24:10

I'll tell you what really does get my goat.

0:24:110:24:14

The planning committee are councillors.

0:24:140:24:16

I doubt if there's a builder or an architect, even a good DIY chap.

0:24:160:24:22

I don't suppose there's one on that committee.

0:24:220:24:25

-The shrubbery behind it? Will that have to go?

-That would have to go.

0:24:250:24:29

And you say it can't be lowered at all?

0:24:290:24:32

Not for the roof tile.

0:24:320:24:34

We have asked for a different roof form and for the pumps for the extension to be

0:24:340:24:38

stepped back so that they can reduce the pitch,

0:24:380:24:40

but the applicant is unable to do that.

0:24:400:24:42

The councillors' vote in three weeks' time will determine

0:24:440:24:47

-whether the extension will be built.

-Thank you.

0:24:470:24:50

But Mary and her family aren't confident.

0:24:500:24:52

The one gentleman said,

0:24:540:24:56

"Is the greenery going to stay there on the fence?"

0:24:560:24:59

Well, looking at the drawings, any idiot can see that that's got to go

0:24:590:25:03

and it's going to be a wall there.

0:25:030:25:05

'Half of them people, what do they know about it?'

0:25:050:25:08

They've never been in the building trade.

0:25:080:25:10

-They go round on a jolly and they haven't got a

-BLEEP

-clue.

0:25:100:25:14

This is what you've got with the planning committee.

0:25:140:25:17

-A load of

-BLEEP

-idiots.

0:25:170:25:19

The councillors come from all walks of life, from watchmaker

0:25:190:25:23

to a retired policeman, but they do receive some training

0:25:230:25:27

in planning law when they join the committee.

0:25:270:25:29

It's something that I will be discussing with planning

0:25:300:25:33

on Thursday, because I do have some questions that need to be answered

0:25:330:25:38

at the planning meeting.

0:25:380:25:41

-But you can't talk about them now?

-No, I'd rather not, thank you.

0:25:410:25:45

Planners don't just have to balance the conflicting views

0:25:510:25:55

of home owners - they also have to consider

0:25:550:25:57

the need for sustainable, energy-saving development.

0:25:570:26:00

We have a house that's lovely to live in.

0:26:020:26:05

To live in the centre of Chester really has its pleasantries as well.

0:26:050:26:09

Retired GPs Basil and Rachel Thompson spent £250,000

0:26:100:26:15

restoring their home by the city walls in Chester.

0:26:150:26:19

There's room for their grandchildren and their hobbies.

0:26:190:26:23

Now, isn't that nice?

0:26:230:26:25

But there's one further improvement they'd like to make

0:26:270:26:30

to their Grade II-listed home.

0:26:300:26:32

There's an awful lot of sunlight falls

0:26:320:26:35

and we're not using it.

0:26:350:26:38

We want to put 17 solar panels on this roof.

0:26:380:26:43

Let's take 17 small strides.

0:26:430:26:46

One, two, three...

0:26:460:26:47

The Thompsons have applied for planning permission

0:26:470:26:50

to install solar panels, which will cost them £8,500.

0:26:500:26:54

Here, if we use the central part, it will go from here

0:26:550:26:59

to the other side of that window.

0:26:590:27:02

They'll only see a return on their investment in 12 years,

0:27:020:27:06

when they're both 95.

0:27:060:27:07

We don't need it - we're relatively well-off,

0:27:070:27:11

we're not complaining about our electricity bills,

0:27:110:27:15

which are somewhere in the order of 2,500 a year.

0:27:150:27:20

But we feel very strongly that

0:27:200:27:23

whatever we can do to cut down unsustainable energy

0:27:230:27:28

is our obligation for future generations.

0:27:280:27:32

We've got the money sitting there waiting to pay for it

0:27:330:27:37

and we're lucky on that.

0:27:370:27:40

But as they live within the city's conservation area,

0:27:400:27:43

they have to wait for the planners' approval before doing anything

0:27:430:27:47

to the traditional slate roof.

0:27:470:27:49

It's a listed building

0:27:500:27:52

and our garage roof is very much in view

0:27:520:27:58

of anybody walking along the walls,

0:27:580:28:00

but quite honestly, I think that anybody leaning over our wall

0:28:000:28:04

will look at the garden rather than worry about the solar panels.

0:28:040:28:08

Who are we going to upset by putting a row of solar panels on the roof?

0:28:080:28:13

The man responsible for preserving the historic appearance

0:28:160:28:20

of the city is conservation officer John Healey.

0:28:200:28:23

It's not a static city, it's a city that moves forward and our job is

0:28:240:28:27

to ensure that it moves forward in a way which is informed by the past.

0:28:270:28:33

There's no denying the fact that this is an incredibly

0:28:340:28:36

sensitive location. There are constraints.

0:28:360:28:39

Together with case officer Dan Nickson, John has come

0:28:390:28:42

to visit Basil and Rachel to let them know whether or not

0:28:420:28:46

they will be recommending approval for their solar panels.

0:28:460:28:49

-Is our doorbell not working?

-I did try it.

0:28:500:28:53

OK. No energy.

0:28:580:29:01

We have been assessing it and we are looking to refuse the application.

0:29:010:29:05

It's very visible from the city walls.

0:29:050:29:08

Chester City Walls dates back to the time of the Roman occupation.

0:29:080:29:12

It is one of the primary tourist draws into the town.

0:29:120:29:16

It would have a significant impact on the appearance of the property

0:29:160:29:19

and particularly on the appearance of the slate roof.

0:29:190:29:23

You'd be concealing the slate roof

0:29:230:29:25

with large modular reflective panels.

0:29:250:29:28

Then if we just turn a moment, sorry, and just look at the building

0:29:280:29:33

that is behind - that looks just like a panel there.

0:29:330:29:36

Nothing but panels and you permitted that one.

0:29:360:29:39

But I can't answer for the sins of those who were here

0:29:390:29:42

in the '70s, can I, really?

0:29:420:29:44

We feel very strongly

0:29:440:29:46

that you're ignoring the...

0:29:460:29:50

21st century.

0:29:500:29:52

We have to be mindful that granting a permission in this circumstance

0:29:520:29:56

here perhaps suggests that others might successfully also apply

0:29:560:30:00

-for similar sorts of developments elsewhere.

-So what?

0:30:000:30:03

It's like saying that one can't have electricity, one can't have

0:30:030:30:07

modern things that are appropriate to conserving the here

0:30:070:30:12

and thereafter for our families and next generations.

0:30:120:30:15

I honestly think that solar panellings are going to be just

0:30:150:30:19

as acceptable in ten years' time as the bicycle

0:30:190:30:24

and a whole lot of other modern technology.

0:30:240:30:27

I don't think we were saying no solar panels.

0:30:290:30:32

What I think we were saying was solar panels where

0:30:320:30:35

they were appropriately located.

0:30:350:30:36

But for heaven's sake, not on elevations directly fronting

0:30:360:30:40

the city wall on listed buildings.

0:30:400:30:42

John's opposition means the planners are rejecting the application.

0:30:440:30:48

But Rachel and Basil have lobbied their councillor

0:30:480:30:51

and it'll now go to the planning committee.

0:30:510:30:54

But John is confident the case is straightforward.

0:30:540:30:57

The planning system is one that's based on balancing up various

0:30:570:31:01

competing interests.

0:31:010:31:02

I have to say, when we have favourable decisions,

0:31:020:31:05

I have a slight smile on my face.

0:31:050:31:08

If they turn it down at committee, we'd certainly go to appeal.

0:31:080:31:13

I've even said that I would happily go down

0:31:130:31:17

and try and talk to the government official in charge

0:31:170:31:21

of renewable energies.

0:31:210:31:23

She's a bit of a terrier. If her teeth are into something,

0:31:230:31:27

she is very willing to pursue it to the ultimate, if necessary.

0:31:270:31:33

And if you think that's right, yes.

0:31:330:31:36

It's not in my nature to accept something that I feel

0:31:360:31:40

is unreasonable.

0:31:400:31:42

In Cheltenham, Geraldine Beaty has also had her planning application

0:31:500:31:54

recommended for refusal by the conservation officer.

0:31:540:31:58

I have scraped my car more than once doing this.

0:32:000:32:03

Just because I can't have parking at the front of my house.

0:32:060:32:09

Geraldine wants permission to create a parking space.

0:32:110:32:14

Since the conservation officer's report, she's lobbied

0:32:140:32:17

her local councillor and now the final decision will go before

0:32:170:32:21

Cheltenham's planning committee, who are on their way to her house.

0:32:210:32:25

It's a sort of mystery tour.

0:32:280:32:30

All will be revealed.

0:32:340:32:36

It's just this house up on the right here. That house there.

0:32:370:32:42

As you're aware, there is a policy in the plan

0:32:420:32:45

which talks about resisting introduction of hard-standing

0:32:450:32:49

and parked cars to the front of houses in conservation areas.

0:32:490:32:52

And in this instance the recommendation is to refuse.

0:32:520:32:56

On your recommendation, how does that fit in with the other side

0:32:560:33:02

of the road where there are numerous dropped kerbs?

0:33:020:33:05

And the next door neighbour.

0:33:050:33:07

Yes, along Albert Road there are numerous examples of dropped kerbs.

0:33:090:33:13

Again, the old adage -

0:33:130:33:14

there's no such thing as a precedent in planning.

0:33:140:33:17

Every case has its different merits.

0:33:170:33:19

The conservation officer has objected,

0:33:190:33:22

as the historic front garden would be lost,

0:33:220:33:24

along with the railings and the dividing wall.

0:33:240:33:27

That's the objection. if you remove that, you lose

0:33:270:33:30

that historic sub-division, if you like.

0:33:300:33:33

The wall and the green. And the railings, you name it.

0:33:330:33:39

When on site, to prevent lobbying,

0:33:390:33:42

the applicant is not allowed to speak to the councillors,

0:33:420:33:45

a rule which committee member Barbara is keen to enforce.

0:33:450:33:48

-We're just going to move it back...

-No, you can't talk to us, sorry.

0:33:500:33:54

Er...

0:33:540:33:55

-Sorry...

-Sorry, I'm paying for this application. Don't be so unpleasant.

0:33:550:34:00

The view isn't... What...

0:34:000:34:03

We are told that we can't get into conversation with an applicant

0:34:030:34:07

when we're on planning view, and I was trying to warn the lady

0:34:070:34:10

that she couldn't do it but she got her knickers in a twist.

0:34:100:34:15

But... SHE LAUGHS

0:34:150:34:17

Yeah, I apologise for the outburst, that was a bit... Wasn't...

0:34:170:34:21

put in the best way, perhaps.

0:34:210:34:23

I'm afraid it's not my ruling, it's the council's ruling.

0:34:250:34:28

They spoke to me, but I'm not allowed to speak to them.

0:34:280:34:31

That's just bizarre behaviour,

0:34:310:34:33

it's primitive and not very helpful at all.

0:34:330:34:38

I find it, honestly, really upsetting.

0:34:390:34:42

I've tried so hard to put this through

0:34:420:34:44

and then for some woman who doesn't have any interest at all.

0:34:440:34:49

-Well, an interest as a councillor, obviously.

-I'm finding it quite stressful.

0:34:490:34:54

-Well, thank you for letting us visit.

-Thank you.

0:34:540:34:57

-And we'll see you on Thursday.

-Thank you.

0:34:570:34:59

The councillors will meet again

0:35:060:35:08

at the council offices in three days' time

0:35:080:35:10

to decide on the fate of Geraldine's £10,000 application.

0:35:100:35:14

I've probably not helped the case at all by saying to her,

0:35:160:35:19

"Well, I'm paying for this, so why can't I speak?"

0:35:190:35:22

But anyway...

0:35:230:35:25

It just seems an old-fashioned weird way of behaving,

0:35:250:35:29

like I'm supposed to be grateful to them.

0:35:290:35:32

We'll see. I suspect it's going to get turned down now.

0:35:370:35:40

In Winsford, Cheshire, Sandra Challinor and her neighbours

0:35:490:35:53

have heard the news that the planning department

0:35:530:35:55

are in favour of building a housing estate opposite their homes.

0:35:550:35:59

It's depressing,

0:36:000:36:02

it's depressing to just see this word "approved" to go forward,

0:36:020:36:07

so obviously we're just going to fight to the end now and keep going.

0:36:070:36:12

They've lost the planning argument but they're leafleting every house

0:36:160:36:20

in the area. A large turnout at the committee meeting

0:36:200:36:23

could sway the councillors and get the housing scheme turned down.

0:36:230:36:27

We just want the people to come along

0:36:270:36:30

to show the councillors there's a lot of concern

0:36:300:36:33

about the building of houses, not just here but also in other parts

0:36:330:36:39

of this county, and I'm afraid in the other parts of the country.

0:36:390:36:43

I do understand why they get upset, but it's my job to try and balance

0:36:440:36:48

those emotions against what people do need at the end of the day,

0:36:480:36:52

which is good-quality homes to live in.

0:36:520:36:54

I'd love to be confident, but at the moment the case officer has

0:36:540:36:58

recommended it for approval. No, I can't be confident at the moment,

0:36:580:37:02

still hope.

0:37:020:37:03

We've just got to try and persuade them on the day, I suppose.

0:37:030:37:06

It's my job to promote development in the right places.

0:37:060:37:09

I don't want to see the whole of Britain built on.

0:37:090:37:12

I'm a country girl at heart.

0:37:120:37:13

You've got to be realistic, you want it to be rejected,

0:37:130:37:17

that's really why we're fighting this campaign, we want it stopped.

0:37:170:37:21

The elected councillors,

0:37:280:37:30

who will decide the fate of Winsford's fields,

0:37:300:37:32

must balance officers' advice with the feelings of their constituents.

0:37:320:37:37

I think people do realise it's a commitment

0:37:370:37:40

and you've got to be heart-wrenching at times.

0:37:400:37:43

I'm making a major decision,

0:37:430:37:45

yes, because it's going to sometimes affect a lot of people.

0:37:450:37:49

Norman is a retired farmer, so knows how vulnerable farmland is

0:37:510:37:55

to development since the laws changed.

0:37:550:37:58

When I sold my land, I've got 50 years conditions on it

0:37:580:38:02

so they can't build on it.

0:38:020:38:04

These fields in Winsford have no such protection.

0:38:080:38:11

Norman and the other councillors are being shown the site

0:38:110:38:15

of the proposed housing development by the planning officers.

0:38:150:38:19

I'm used to wearing inappropriate site shoes - I'm a girl.

0:38:190:38:23

LAUGHTER

0:38:230:38:25

The people who object to it, are they people who are going to have

0:38:250:38:29

their view ruined or have they got a more strategic view of this?

0:38:290:38:33

We've had a number of objections. I couldn't tell you exactly which

0:38:330:38:37

houses they're from - they are generally local residents.

0:38:370:38:40

As they're elected every four years,

0:38:400:38:42

councillors are under pressure to listen to their constituents.

0:38:420:38:46

They will listen to what we as professional officers put forward

0:38:460:38:49

as a recommendation. They'll also listen to the applicants

0:38:490:38:51

putting forward their cases and the objectors or supporters

0:38:510:38:54

on the parish council.

0:38:540:38:55

So they weigh up all those things in the balance

0:38:550:38:58

and they represent true democracy.

0:38:580:39:00

Look at the situation. It's a beautiful site

0:39:020:39:05

for agricultural land, isn't it?

0:39:050:39:08

Nicely ploughed, actually. Whoever has ploughed that,

0:39:080:39:12

it's quite good. As an expert, couldn't do it better myself.

0:39:120:39:16

Is that a factor for you to consider?

0:39:180:39:21

It's sad, as a farmer, to see it go, perhaps,

0:39:210:39:24

but we've got to make way

0:39:240:39:26

for new houses, perhaps.

0:39:260:39:28

Yeah.

0:39:280:39:30

I'm still waiting for the debate on the situation.

0:39:300:39:34

In Cheltenham, Mary Yeates' objection to her neighbour's extension

0:39:430:39:47

is about to be decided by the planning committee.

0:39:470:39:50

They meet every month in the main council chamber.

0:39:520:39:56

It looks very official, which it is, anyway.

0:39:560:39:58

A lot of people all sitting around listening to your every word.

0:39:580:40:02

It's almost like a courtroom.

0:40:020:40:03

To a lot of people it's frightening.

0:40:030:40:05

During the debate, Mary's daughter, Pauline,

0:40:070:40:09

will have a chance to convince the councillors to refuse permission.

0:40:090:40:13

Decided that we'll keep it short, sweet, to the point,

0:40:130:40:18

and...fingers crossed.

0:40:180:40:21

This is the opportunity for the two parties

0:40:220:40:25

to give their opinion on the application.

0:40:250:40:28

We've got the neighbour speaking and the applicant speaking,

0:40:280:40:32

so we're going to hear from both parties.

0:40:320:40:34

Thank you, members. We now move on to the applications.

0:40:340:40:38

The planners have recommended approval for the single-storey extension,

0:40:380:40:42

but Pauline thinks her mum back home

0:40:420:40:45

will suffer from a loss of light if construction goes ahead.

0:40:450:40:49

First, Mrs Pauline Cox.

0:40:490:40:50

Our main objection to the extension is the height

0:40:500:40:56

and the size of the extension.

0:40:560:41:00

If the height of the building was lowered,

0:41:000:41:02

then we would have less objection to it than we do with it in its present state.

0:41:020:41:08

That's all I've got to say, thank you.

0:41:080:41:11

Thank you very much, Mrs Cox.

0:41:110:41:12

I now ask Mr Duncan Philpotts to speak.

0:41:140:41:18

Good evening, everyone.

0:41:180:41:19

The applicant has now the chance to address Pauline's objection.

0:41:190:41:23

We have looked into reducing the height of the extension

0:41:240:41:27

as much as possible.

0:41:270:41:29

My understanding is, the planning application we've put in

0:41:290:41:32

passes the daylight test, so any points on daylight

0:41:320:41:37

shouldn't have any bearing on the planning decision. Thank you.

0:41:370:41:42

After hearing from both sides,

0:41:420:41:44

there's a chance for the councillors to debate,

0:41:440:41:47

but instead they go straight to the vote.

0:41:470:41:49

Right, we now go to the vote.

0:41:490:41:52

The recommendation is to approve.

0:41:520:41:54

All those in favour?

0:41:540:41:56

12.

0:41:590:42:00

Those against?

0:42:000:42:02

One.

0:42:020:42:04

Abstentions?

0:42:040:42:06

None.

0:42:060:42:07

That is approved.

0:42:070:42:08

Planning permission has been granted for the extension,

0:42:130:42:16

despite Pauline and David's efforts.

0:42:160:42:19

I've had bloody enough of it, with what we've got in this town for councillors

0:42:210:42:25

-and the load of

-BLEEP

-they're putting up.

0:42:250:42:27

Barbara has been the only councillor to vote against the extension.

0:42:280:42:33

I voted against it for the next-door neighbour

0:42:330:42:36

because although it didn't take away the light,

0:42:360:42:39

it was very oppressive to her lounge windows

0:42:390:42:43

and it's the only window she had there in that little lounge.

0:42:430:42:47

The law is it has to take away the light

0:42:470:42:50

but sometimes I think we've got to think

0:42:500:42:51

a little bit outside the box, not just planning rules and everything else.

0:42:510:42:56

A little bit of common sense for the neighbours I think, personally, comes into it.

0:42:560:43:02

In Chester, Rachel and Basil Thompson

0:43:130:43:16

are hoping to have more luck in front of THEIR planning committee.

0:43:160:43:20

Their plans to put solar panels on the roof of their listed home

0:43:200:43:23

have been rejected by the officers,

0:43:230:43:25

but they've lobbied their local councillor

0:43:250:43:27

and now committee will have its say.

0:43:270:43:30

I feel it's a battle that...

0:43:300:43:32

It was no use trying to fight it ten years ago,

0:43:330:43:37

but attitudes have changed

0:43:370:43:39

and it is necessary to explore every form of green energy.

0:43:390:43:45

The councillors are visiting to see what impact the panels would have

0:43:490:43:54

on the views from the city walls.

0:43:540:43:56

The conservation officer has been consulted on the application

0:43:560:43:59

and considers that the harm is so significant here

0:43:590:44:03

because of its location, in terms of its proximity to the walls,

0:44:030:44:07

the listed building,

0:44:070:44:09

that it outweighs the benefits from delivering

0:44:090:44:12

additional renewable energy from the solar panels.

0:44:120:44:15

As you walk down the walls, it is particularly prominent.

0:44:170:44:20

You only get... You know, you get, obviously, a section of a view here

0:44:200:44:23

but you can see it from some distance going both ways.

0:44:230:44:26

It's a pity we can't get Roman-style solar panels, isn't it?

0:44:260:44:31

Well, you can get photovoltaic tiles

0:44:310:44:34

that are like slate look...slate appearance rather than solar panels,

0:44:340:44:38

but there's a cost element to that.

0:44:380:44:41

OK.

0:44:410:44:42

-Are you guys...? Can you see?

-Seen it. Shall we go?

-Yeah.

0:44:420:44:45

The application has taken Rachel and Basil three months to prepare.

0:44:500:44:55

The committee members have the power to override

0:44:550:44:57

the recommendations of the officers.

0:44:570:44:59

One speaker on this... Rachel Thompson.

0:45:000:45:03

Each local authority has different rules on addressing the committee.

0:45:030:45:07

Rachel is allowed three minutes.

0:45:070:45:10

The solar panels which we are proposing are slick, slimline

0:45:100:45:14

and low profile

0:45:140:45:16

and would cover less than half of the lower part of the slate roof.

0:45:160:45:22

I fail to agree that the sight of solar panels would be an eyesore.

0:45:220:45:29

Thank you.

0:45:290:45:30

With a recommendation to refuse planning permission,

0:45:300:45:34

the councillors start the debate.

0:45:340:45:36

I think that people walking along the city walls will say,

0:45:360:45:40

"Yes, it is a pretty old building and it looks very nice

0:45:400:45:43

"and how forward-thinking of the people to have solar panels on it."

0:45:430:45:48

We can't stop the march of time

0:45:480:45:51

and this is now what people are putting on the roofs of their houses

0:45:510:45:54

to actually make the whole of the world more sustainable.

0:45:540:45:58

Sometimes the conservation officer is wrong

0:45:580:46:01

and in this case he is.

0:46:010:46:02

It's finally time for the vote.

0:46:040:46:06

All those in favour?

0:46:060:46:09

The council have dismissed the recommendation

0:46:090:46:11

and it's a unanimous yes for Rachel and Basil's solar panels.

0:46:110:46:15

It's approved.

0:46:150:46:17

Item 12...

0:46:210:46:22

I can't believe it. It's just...

0:46:240:46:27

Well beyond belief.

0:46:270:46:29

I'm... I'm thrilled.

0:46:300:46:32

And...they are right.

0:46:320:46:35

I'm sure they're right.

0:46:350:46:36

I was quite sure it would just be thrown out like that,

0:46:360:46:40

and the thought of going to appeal, oh, dear.

0:46:400:46:44

We reckon we need to live another ten years to get anything back!

0:46:450:46:51

I should think we'll be long gone.

0:46:510:46:53

In Cheltenham, the planning committee is also about to vote

0:47:050:47:08

on changes to a listed building.

0:47:080:47:10

Geraldine Beaty is about to find out

0:47:100:47:13

if all her money spent on consultants

0:47:130:47:15

is enough to buy her a parking space outside her Georgian home.

0:47:150:47:19

We've got four bodies of expert input that we've paid for

0:47:190:47:24

to put together the best possible proposal

0:47:240:47:27

and, at best, my advisor is says it's 50/50.

0:47:270:47:32

Even though every other house in the street has a dropped kerb,

0:47:360:47:40

the conservation officer opposes the application,

0:47:400:47:43

saying it would destroy the original garden layout.

0:47:430:47:46

Councillors may see things differently.

0:47:460:47:49

I want it to be refused - that's my recommendation.

0:47:490:47:51

But they are the ones who will make the decision.

0:47:510:47:53

Geraldine has brought her husband along for support.

0:47:530:47:56

But she won't be speaking. She's got a consultant to do that.

0:47:560:48:00

All the properties fronting onto Albert Road, a total of 16,

0:48:010:48:06

have vehicular access to the front.

0:48:060:48:09

The precedent set by this is therefore very significant

0:48:090:48:12

and the impact of one more property,

0:48:120:48:15

the final one in the immediate locality,

0:48:150:48:17

having vehicular access to the front

0:48:170:48:19

would not harm the conservation area.

0:48:190:48:22

The councillors must now debate the application.

0:48:220:48:25

The first signs are good for Geraldine.

0:48:250:48:28

Every house there has got access to a driveway from the road.

0:48:280:48:34

I-I... I think...

0:48:340:48:36

bordering on churlish to not approve this application.

0:48:360:48:42

Councillor Driver?

0:48:420:48:44

But next to talk is Barbara,

0:48:440:48:45

who clashed with Geraldine on the site visit.

0:48:450:48:49

This house has got plenty of room at the back for the parking.

0:48:490:48:55

They could even move the entrance way further down

0:48:550:48:59

and make it larger if they wished, if they're having trouble.

0:48:590:49:02

There is no need to change the front.

0:49:020:49:05

I shall vote to refuse.

0:49:050:49:08

With a split of opinion in the committee,

0:49:080:49:11

it's time for the Cheltenham councillors to vote.

0:49:110:49:13

All those in favour of approval?

0:49:130:49:15

That's six.

0:49:170:49:18

Those against approval?

0:49:180:49:21

That is seven.

0:49:210:49:23

It is refused.

0:49:230:49:24

Thank you.

0:49:240:49:25

£10,000 the poorer,

0:49:250:49:28

Geraldine and her husband will still have to park at the back.

0:49:280:49:31

The planners have had their way.

0:49:310:49:34

And so has Barbara.

0:49:340:49:35

I don't vote on things on whether I like somebody or don't like somebody,

0:49:350:49:40

or, indeed, do I know them.

0:49:400:49:41

I vote on the issues that are there.

0:49:410:49:44

What do we do now?

0:49:510:49:53

I think we sleep on it, to be honest.

0:49:530:49:56

SHE SIGHS It's so very frustrating.

0:49:580:50:01

Very disappointing.

0:50:010:50:03

We will have to sleep on it. We really will have to sleep on it.

0:50:040:50:08

After further consultation with her team of planning experts,

0:50:170:50:20

Geraldine decided to take her kerb to appeal.

0:50:200:50:24

In Chester City, there's a shiny new addition to the town's historic roofline.

0:50:320:50:38

-We had a leak.

-A leak.

0:50:380:50:40

Well, we weren't sure whether it was a leak or the dog.

0:50:400:50:43

Rachel and Basil Thompson are clearing up

0:50:430:50:45

after the installation of their new, high-tech, energy-saving solar panels.

0:50:450:50:50

This is an electric machine which...

0:50:510:50:55

er...

0:50:550:50:56

inverts...

0:50:560:50:58

inverts...

0:50:580:51:00

Oh, golly. It takes the...

0:51:000:51:03

-the solar light...

-That comes in...

0:51:030:51:06

..and makes it into electricity.

0:51:060:51:08

-That comes in...

-More than that I really don't know.

0:51:080:51:11

It comes in as DC and it's converted to AC,

0:51:110:51:15

but why "inversion" I don't know.

0:51:150:51:18

Rachel and Basil may be struggling to get to grips with the latest technology,

0:51:180:51:23

but conservation officer John Healey

0:51:230:51:25

is struggling to reconcile the old with the new.

0:51:250:51:28

They just look, in my view, utterly alien,

0:51:310:51:35

in the core of this historic city

0:51:350:51:37

and I do worry that we might see

0:51:370:51:40

other similar sorts of installations

0:51:400:51:43

on historic buildings ultimately to the detriment

0:51:430:51:46

of the overall character and integrity of the city.

0:51:460:51:50

It just looks like a roof with stripes on.

0:51:500:51:53

I think they look fantastic.

0:51:530:51:56

Don't you?

0:51:560:51:57

-I'm not used to it yet.

-OK.

0:51:570:52:00

I rest my case for the moment.

0:52:000:52:03

I don't think you can take it personally.

0:52:030:52:05

Ultimately, the decision is with members.

0:52:050:52:07

The members have taken this decision.

0:52:070:52:09

Hopefully, you know,

0:52:090:52:11

they might, perhaps, be able to take a look at this

0:52:110:52:15

and reconsider whether it was indeed the best decision to have taken.

0:52:150:52:20

You don't think it was?

0:52:210:52:23

Well...

0:52:230:52:24

HE LAUGHS

0:52:240:52:26

Shall we just cut that one?

0:52:260:52:28

Some decisions by planning committees

0:52:320:52:34

have the power to transform the landscape forever.

0:52:340:52:38

The push to get Britain building means those changes

0:52:380:52:41

are affecting land that was always considered protected.

0:52:410:52:45

In Winsford in Cheshire,

0:52:460:52:48

councillors are being asked to throw out plans

0:52:480:52:51

to build 540 new homes on farmland.

0:52:510:52:55

So we just thought we'd meet them with our signs,

0:52:550:52:58

ready and waiting.

0:52:580:52:59

You can't give an opinion at this stage, can you?

0:52:590:53:02

Certainly cannot. You're dead right there.

0:53:020:53:05

-Why not?

-Cos our minds have to be open

0:53:050:53:08

until we've all heard everything, don't we? Yes.

0:53:080:53:12

Morning.

0:53:130:53:14

Hello.

0:53:160:53:18

Head planner Fiona is recommending the scheme be approved.

0:53:190:53:24

I wouldn't be a councillor because you are inevitably

0:53:240:53:27

going to be the bad boy somewhere along the line.

0:53:270:53:30

They may come to a different decision to the recommendation that we give them

0:53:310:53:35

because you could argue that they are the eyes and ears of the local people.

0:53:350:53:39

Quite often they'll go against what I say.

0:53:390:53:42

Everybody's entitled to their own opinion, even if it's wrong.

0:53:420:53:46

540 houses would be built by three separate developers.

0:53:480:53:54

The objectors need to persuade the councillors

0:53:540:53:57

to go against professional planning advice.

0:53:570:53:59

These planning applications are not about developing Winsford,

0:53:590:54:03

they're about maximising the profit for the developer.

0:54:030:54:05

We, as residents, council tax payers

0:54:050:54:07

and voters, are not interested in maximising developers' profits.

0:54:070:54:11

We are simply looking for the right development in the right area of Winsford

0:54:110:54:14

and this application simply isn't right for Winsford.

0:54:140:54:17

With government policy encouraging new houses,

0:54:190:54:22

the developers are in a strong position.

0:54:220:54:25

Housing is needed and it's needed nationally

0:54:250:54:28

and some of the land that is required will have to be on greenfield land.

0:54:280:54:33

Now, this is a good site because it's in Winsford,

0:54:330:54:37

and Winsford is a key settlement for the delivery of homes.

0:54:370:54:40

The development is sustainable.

0:54:400:54:42

There'll be longer-term benefits to the local economy.

0:54:420:54:45

In addition, it's not widely visible,

0:54:450:54:47

so it will have a limited impact on the landscape.

0:54:470:54:50

Sandra and her fellow objectors must listen

0:54:520:54:55

as the committee discuss the application.

0:54:550:54:57

The application is a very large one.

0:54:570:55:00

These 600 houses could be imposed on this lovely town of Winsford.

0:55:000:55:06

That is too big a level of massing

0:55:060:55:10

in one beautiful area.

0:55:100:55:12

I shall be voting against this application this evening.

0:55:120:55:15

Although they have the power to throw the plans out,

0:55:190:55:21

if the developers appeal and are successful,

0:55:210:55:25

the council could be forced to pay thousands in legal costs.

0:55:250:55:28

It is extremely difficult.

0:55:280:55:30

On the one hand, we have sympathy with the residents

0:55:300:55:32

on the overdevelopment issues,

0:55:320:55:34

and yet, on the other hand, we are up against it over this five-year plan.

0:55:340:55:38

We may have every sympathy with the residents of Winsford

0:55:380:55:41

but our hands are tied, Chairman.

0:55:410:55:43

As I understand it, Winsford is still growing

0:55:450:55:48

and it's still in need of affordable housing within the area.

0:55:480:55:52

I think this is something that is going to be good for Winsford

0:55:520:55:54

and I hope it's going to be good for the residents of Winsford as well

0:55:540:55:57

and I would like to move approval.

0:55:570:55:59

The three applications will be voted on separately.

0:56:030:56:07

So, all those in favour, please show.

0:56:070:56:10

The first vote on 120 of the houses goes overwhelmingly with the recommendation to approve.

0:56:100:56:16

Against?

0:56:160:56:18

One.

0:56:180:56:19

All those in favour, please show.

0:56:210:56:23

And the other two for the remaining 420 houses go the same way.

0:56:230:56:28

Clearly, the recommendation is approved.

0:56:280:56:31

After a nine-month campaign,

0:56:340:56:36

Sandra and her neighbours have lost their open views.

0:56:360:56:41

It's just disappointing. It's just disappointing that

0:56:410:56:44

you want to do your best by everybody and...

0:56:440:56:47

You just feel as if you've let people down, but, you know...

0:56:490:56:53

It's bigger than... It's bigger than one person, isn't it?

0:56:530:56:56

It's... You know, it's a bigger fight.

0:56:560:57:00

Let's go.

0:57:000:57:02

There were clearly a lot of very, very disappointed residents

0:57:030:57:07

and they feel probably betrayed by the committee decision

0:57:070:57:12

but, nevertheless, it's the decision that I think is the right one.

0:57:120:57:16

I would have thought that if we'd have refused them,

0:57:160:57:18

they'd have gone to appeal on all of them

0:57:180:57:20

and they'd have probably won.

0:57:200:57:22

This is a trend that's going to continue for months

0:57:250:57:28

and possibly some years to come.

0:57:280:57:29

So, interesting times.

0:57:290:57:31

Next time on The Planners...

0:57:370:57:38

The messiest garden in living memory...

0:57:380:57:42

I've been in the building trade now

0:57:420:57:44

for 38, no, 40...

0:57:440:57:45

50? Bloody hell, how many years?

0:57:450:57:47

47 years.

0:57:470:57:49

-Another minibus.

-Another minibus?

0:57:490:57:51

An enforcement officer comes across the unthinkable -

0:57:510:57:55

an admirer.

0:57:550:57:57

I might write to the Queen anyway for the OBE.

0:57:570:57:59

HE CHUCKLES

0:58:020:58:03

-Thank you.

-You don't believe me, do you?

0:58:030:58:04

And news of a modern housing development

0:58:070:58:09

leads to insurrection, Cotswolds style.

0:58:090:58:12

I'll take the wine!

0:58:120:58:14

Oh, fiddlesticks.

0:58:140:58:15

You don't stop fighting, you keep going to the last breath.

0:58:150:58:19

The Lemon Field's just one of many fields.

0:58:190:58:21

Documentary series lifting the lid on the decisions behind planning approvals and refusals, telling the story through the eyes, ears and drawings of the planners themselves. These are the people who interpret the rules, evaluate the proposals and make the recommendations, making homeowners' dreams come true or bringing them crashing down.

In this episode, three national house builders target a greenfield site outside Winsford in Cheshire. They are proposing to build 540 new homes in the area but the locals are not happy and will stop at nothing to derail the development. A Cheltenham couple erect a mock-up of their neighbour's extension to highlight their concerns to planners. A retired couple that lives in a conservation area in the heart of Chester submit a planning application to erect 17 solar panels onto their garage roof and a Cheltenham resident spends over £10,000 on her planning application for a dropped kerb outside her home.