Q. Is planning permission or conservation area consent required to remove a church hall chimney in a conservation area? SD

A. The legal provisions on demolition are complicated. Section 4.3114 of Development Control Practice is quite helpful in dealing with demolition issues. The easy part of the question to answer is that by virtue of the court ruling in Shimizu v Westminster City Council (1997), the work will not require conservation area consent, because the demolition of the whole building or a substantial part of it is not proposed. On the issue of whether planning permission is needed, you will need to assess whether the extent of the scheme, in terms of works such as making good and capping the chimney, results in material alterations to the external appearance of the building. If so, the proposal would be classed as building operations under section 55 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and the work would need planning permission. Even if it does not need planning permission, the proposal will still be subject to part 31, schedule 2 of the General Permitted Development Order 1995. Under this provision, you can require details of the "method of demolition and any proposed restoration of the site", but you cannot prevent demolition. John Harrison

Next questions

A village ex-servicemen's club closed in 2010 and the building was demolished. A masterplan for the village adopted as a supplementary planning document in 2011 identified the site as an "important community facility" and stated that permission would not be given for other uses "without clear support of the local community through effective consultation and a referendum within the parish". Even though it is legally the electoral authority for the area, the council has said that an applicant proposing a new use has to carry out any such referendum. Is this policy legal and reasonable? There is no such policy in the local plan or in masterplans for other settlements in the district. LW

Planning permission for an industrial unit was approved in the 1970s subject to a condition stipulating that "no industrial uses, storage of plant, equipment or other materials shall take place outside the buildings". The owner recently obtained permission for an "extension to existing industrial buildings". The decision notice includes a standard condition stating that the development must be carried out in accordance with the approved plans, which show an area outside the buildings annotated with the words "container storage". The plans do not show the extent of the container storage area, and the case officer's report does not refer to, or assess the impact of, the container storage element. Does approval now exist for container storage, or could enforcement action still be taken? NB

Do you have an answer to these questions? If so, please email it to Forum editor John Harrison at by 21 December. We also welcome your queries, which can be emailed to the same address.

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