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News & Insight

Planning for Christmas

24th November 2016

Father Christmas lives at Santa’s Castle which is a bit unusual because it is a Grade I listed building with an agricultural occupancy condition.  The Castle is approached by a tiny rural lane in a place well away from a bus stop.  In planning speak Father Christmas has no sustainability credentials whatsoever.

Encouraged by a planning gremlin to improve his green credentials, it was suggested that Father Christmas should consider a field of photovoltaic panels and a wind turbine but Father Christmas decided he couldn’t cope with the outrage of local residents at such a busy time of year.

Father Christmas confided in the gremlin that a summer of inactivity had left him with a bigger middle and he was finding some of the chimneys a bit tight, especially those in listed Wealden Hall Houses.  The gremlin was not very sympathetic to his plight which resulted from all those mince pies.  Although Father Christmas had joined Weight Watchers he still did not fit.  But of course the gremlin pointed out, changes to chimneys of listed buildings would need listed building consent as would his proposal to extend Santa’s Castle with an elf (and safety) house.

Amidst the uncertainty of Brexit, it was very difficult to afford toys, and next year either Firclays Bank needed to up its game or Father Christmas needed to use a building at Santa’s Castle as a toy making factory.  The gremlin said planning policy would support this idea because the building is nice and solid and away from neighbours, but he might have a problem because of the building’s location in the curtilage of Santa’s Castle, a listed building and that as the lane was narrow and twisting.  Plus there were a few concerns about “batty matters”; a colony of pipistrelles that lived with the fairies in the Castle which the gremlin took very seriously.  Father Christmas commented that most elves travelled by air and hopefully would be living in the Castle in the elf house in any case, so it was a live work unit. The gremlin wasn’t sure.

Reindeers were another worry.  A large number need to be looked after throughout the year and Father Christmas was hoping to employ someone to look after the livestock.  It is a full time job but not directly income generating.  Despite the occupancy condition Santa’s Castle was full of elves and fairies and he needed a house for his worker.  There might be a solution although tied houses are not easy to come by and he may have to make do with a mobile home or log cabin to start with. The gremlin reminded him that he needed to sort out the occupancy condition on Santa’s Castle because he clearly did not comply.

At that point Father Christmas coughed and spluttered and said how stupid all this control was and why couldn’t he plant a giant Christmas tree plantation to screen Santa’s Castle from prying eyes; the gremlin giggled nervously and said this would not be acceptable because it is harmful to the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Father Christmas trudged off into the snow wondering where the Big Society had got to, making a New Year’s resolution to deal with his planning worries. His Weight Watcher points and eating mince pies and Christmas pudding paled into insignificance when he had so much else to think about including planning his New Year’s Eve Rave on the reindeer paddock, to thank the team for their hard work over Christmas.

The Rural Planning Practice

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