Percydale Press - The Road to Success

Planning Permission

BC 4000
“I’d like to build a henge.”
“I’d like to build a henge near Warminster. A stone circle based on astronomical calculations. I thought I’d call it Stonehenge. It’s for worshipping at. And sometimes we’d like to dance round it and sing songs. I was told I’d have to get planning permission.”
Planning officer chuckles and ushers his visitor out of the room. “I’m sorry. There’s no place for large stone circles in the countryside.”  (Thinks :- Don’t these idiots realise that you can’t go putting up any old thing anywhere,  it would just be an eyesore.)
AD 2000
Stonehenge is a protected monument. Anyone even thinking about destroying it would have the riot squad down in force, be locked up and forgotten about.
Circa First AD or thereabouts.
“I’ve bought this hill overlooking Cerne Abbas in Dorset. It’s a bit bare so I thought I’d make it more interesting by carving a large figure as a feature. I’ve brought this sketch for you to look at.”
“But it’s a naked man. A very rampant naked man. Wouldn’t be better as a little statue in your back garden?”
“Not really. Its 180 feet high.”
Planning officer, aghast, “But that means his thingy is ---.”
“9 feet long.”
“Oh, no. I’m afraid we can’t countenance obscene stuff like that. Now if you don’t leave the building quietly I’ll have to get security to eject you.”
AD 2000
The giant is world-famous feature that must be preserved for posterity.
“There’s no call for a castle in that position, your Majesty. Windsor Great Park must be kept as open space for ramblers to freely roam. No, Ma’am. I don’t care if it is your own land.”
“A smaller house in the village would be much more appropriate rather than that grandiose mansion, Lord Bath. You do realise there’s an inappropriate mixture of styles none of which have been passed by the Planning Committee. It doesn’t fit in with the Development Plan so I’m afraid you’ll have to pull it down. And most people prefer cats to lions.”
“A palace in London? Now if it was an office block or a big dome there might be a chance.”
“You can’t build a folly, round house, tithe barn, cottage on a bridge. But now they are built, you try at your peril to demolish or alter them in any way.”
“A cottage in your 2.5 hectares of woodland? We don’t want to encourage urban sprawl. Now if it was for affordable starter homes -.”
Practically all the buildings, monuments and historic sites that are now protected by the weight of the law and public opinion would never have been granted planning permission in modern times. In spite of that they are much-loved and valued parts of our heritage.
Of course we can’t build anything we like anywhere, but isn’t there room for a little variety and imagination? Do we have to conform to a pattern all the time? These days you can’t even paint your front door any colour you like. If some officious council representative doesn’t like it you can either repaint or take expensive legal action.
Conventional religion might be losing out but we’ve got a new god whose slogan is uniformity, conformity, incipidity. The soon he bites the dust the better.

© Copyright Percydale Press 2006

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