Exmouth business owner criticises council over planning appeal
PUBLISHED: 15:46 08 June 2017 | UPDATED: 15:46 08 June 2017
An Exmouth businessman has claimed a victory in a planning row over his premises, and criticised district officers for their role in the affair.
George Nightingale, owner of café/bar Spoken in the Strand, launched an appeal after he was refused listed building consent for work carried out.
East Devon District Council (EDDC) ordered him to reverse work to internal pillars and remove new exterior signs.
Mr Nightingale said the cost of carrying out this work would threaten his business.
The Planning Inspectorate has now ruled on Mr Nightingale’s case, and partially overturned EDDC’s order, saying internal changes no longer need to be made, but the building’s signs should be restored to their previous appearance.
Mr Nightingale said: “There have been some small alterations to the enforcement notice regarding the signage that I will complete but all-in-all this has been an excellent result.
“It has been a tremendous worry for 18 months but most importantly, a process business owners should not have to go through.
“The council should be there to help and support, not intimidate and cause obstruction.
“It seems that EDDC were determined to get what they wanted no matter what lengths they had to go to.”
Mr Nightingale said his concerns included incorrect statements from officers about plaster which had been removed, described as historic lime plaster when it was modern cement render, and the description of signs as ‘garish’ yellow.
An EDDC spokesperson said: “Carrying out unauthorised works to a listed building is a criminal offence. The council could have prosecuted the owner in this case; however, it sought to take a pragmatic approach.
“It is often difficult to establish what is historic fabric and what are more modern additions after work has already taken place.
“Like us, the Planning Inspector grappled with this issue, albeit he ultimately concluded that the removal of plaster caused limited harm. However, he did agree that the projecting sign is harmful.
“We would urge anyone who owns a listed building and is thinking of carrying out works to it to ensure that they contact us first.”