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More ‘common sense’ needed in planning, says trader

By Fiona Reid
Dumfries and West
More 'common sense' needed in planning, says trader

A SHOPKEEPER in Dumfries has revealed he created a Friars Vennel flat despite permission being rejected — highlighting what he says are constant breaches of planning regulations.

Jeweller Niall Cowan, who is also a member of Loreburn Community Council, says the rules should be applied to everyone or not at all, and not just to those who follow the correct procedures.
Blowing the whistle on his own conversion of a storage building into a one-bedroom flat five years ago, Mr Cowan said: “I made an initial application years ago which was refused.”
Despite followed directions he says he understood would ensure approval, the bid was rejected.
Frustrated, Mr Cowan decided to ignore a ruling he recalls was due to available light — and now has a tenant in his flat.
Mr Cowan believes if a construction has existed uncontested for four years no order can be made to have it removed, but he has now been told by officials they are not aware of any such rule and been recommended to submit a retrospective application.
However, Mr Cowan argues there are constant breaches of planning regulations and situations where work goes ahead with no permission being sought — sometimes major scale work such as in his own case.
But highlighting less serious infractions, he points to a property where he says the owner has been ‘made to jump through hoops’ over acceptable types of windows, while ‘across the road new PVC windows have been fitted with no warrants’.
And calling for a change in approach and a relaxation of restrictions, he said: “We need common sense applied. When you’re in a conservation area, which this is, we should be looking at this and saying, ‘What are the long-term cost implications for the owner against the conservation side of it?'”
A spokesman for Dumfries and Galloway Council said: “If anyone has any concerns they should raise them with the council as the planning and building standards authority.
“We will investigate the allegations and take any action we consider appropriate.”
He added: “There is information on our website regarding how to apply for both planning permission and building warrants, the processes involved and the enforcement powers we have.”


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