A retrospective planning application has been lodged with Swale Borough Council for a change of use of the former barber’s shop at 65-67 London Road, including structural alterations.  At last night’s Parish Council meeting, councillors resolved to file an objection.  This can be read below. 

The building is located within the Rural Local Service Centre of Teynham, classified as Tier 4 in the Swale Retail Hierarchy.

Policy DM3 of the Swale Local Plan is intended to protect the rural economy and provides that "planning permission for residential development will not be permitted where this would reduce the potential for rural employment and/or community facilities unless the site/building is demonstrated as having no demand for such purposes or its use would be undesirable or unsuitable".

Clearly those mitigating factors do not apply here, as the building has been in commercial use for over 100 years.  It has variously been a florist, hat shop, wedding shop, cycle store and, latterly, a barber’s shop which was very well frequented by local residents.

The application is therefore in contravention of Policy DM3.  

Customers of the barber’s shop now have to rely on the private car to access hairdressing services in higher order settlements in the Borough.  This is contrary to the environmental objective of the National Planning Policy Framework (as set out in paragraph 8) which requires the planning system to facilitate the delivery of sustainable development and move towards a low carbon economy.

Further, the building is located in the Cellar Hill and GreenStreet Conservation Area, the majority of which lies within the boundary of this Parish.  

We draw your attention to the Character Appraisal (currently in draft form).  Para 4.3 states:

"The conservation area review also revealed that unauthorised alterations to buildings carried out without planning permission (or listed building consent) pose a significant threat to the character of the conservation area. One very recent example is the unauthorised removal of the historic shopfront on the corner of 65 and 67 London Road which was noted in the 2000 appraisal as a significant feature.  An essential component of any conservation area management strategy is an effective planning enforcement strategy which prioritises enforcement action relating to heritage conservation”.

There has, to date, been a conspicuous absence of planning enforcement regarding this development.

The alterations to the external appearance of the building, including the removal of the corner doorway and the addition of white render, are out of keeping with the character of this conservation area.  

We note that no planning application was submitted in advance of the works being undertaken, either for change of use or for the structural alterations.  In the light of the above comments, we consider it likely that permission would have been refused.  We believe the same criteria should be applied to this retrospective application.  Developers should not be allowed to flout the rules and get away with it.

Lynsted with Kingsdown Parish Council considers that the building should revert to business use and that the historically-important frontage should be restored. 

Residents wishing to comment on this application should visit the Swale Planning Portal and search for reference 24/500512/FULL.