Diary: Gaudi development secures consent

Barcelona's iconic La Sagrada Familia is one of the most recognisable buildings in Europe, as well as its longest-running construction project, but it has just come to light that it is in fact an unauthorised development.

The cathedral announced last week that it has come to an "historic agreement" with Barcelona City Council to normalise permits for the structure. Work began on realising architect Antoni Gaudi’s vision in 1882, but no planning consent was fully issued. It was revealed last week that the council failed to respond to an application lodged by Gaudi in 1885. The agreement now reached promises a €36 million contribution towards public transport, urban planning and public services.

Brexit secretary Dominic Raab wasn’t in post as planning minister for long but his stint had one legacy – encouraging the use of virtual reality goggles in planning decisions. With Raab having donned tech firm Sublime’s VR goggles at April’s Design Quality Conference, others are following suit. Planning inspector Colin Ball said the use of such equipment was crucial in his assessment of the Marsh Wall tower scheme in east London, approved earlier this month (see Casebook, p22). "Virtual reality goggles allowed me to ‘see’ the proposed building in its future surroundings," he said.

Being the inspiration for the film Babe has not saved a Gloucestershire farm from being developed for housing. In an appeal decision last month on Barratt Homes’ proposal for 215 homes at Woodlands Farm near Bristol (DCS Number 200-007-855), inspector Nick Fagan acknowledged the site’s importance as the former home of children’s author Dick King-Smith, whose book The Sheep Pig inspired the film. Fagan noted that the author "took inspiration from the farm and the local area", but cited an "acute need" for affordable homes in allowing the appeal.

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