Five years ago, planning permission was granted to redevelop the now-empty Benson for Beds building and replace it with “a two storey building with accommodation in the roofspace to contain 7 residential flats at first and second floor and a retail unit at ground floor, following the demolition of the existing building.” Permission was conditional on work being started before August 2014.
To the passer-by, nothing much has happened since. However, a small outbuilding was demolished (see photo), and some footings apparently dug for the new building (we’ve been unable to see these). The agent for the site is now claiming that this constitutes ‘starting work’. It may well do, though we feel it would be more compliance with the letter than the spirit of the condition.
To confirm the position, the agent has applied to the borough council for a Lawful Development Certificate. If issued, this would enable the development scheme to go ahead without any further planning application being required.
Or, at least, it would enable the development scheme to be delayed indefinitely? In which case we might have to put up with the sad building – which now has a boarded-up smashed window facing the High Street – for an unknown time.