Wisbech hair salon loses battle to keep plastic windows and install railings to protect against anti-social behaviour as councillors refuse application
PUBLISHED: 17:32 18 July 2018 | UPDATED: 17:32 18 July 2018
Councillors refused an application to keep seven first floor windows, replace two and install railings to protect against anti-social behaviour at a hair salon in Wisbech.
The Retreat, in Exchange Square, now faces the possibly of having to fork out £12,000 to replace plastic sash windows fitted by a firm that failed to get conservation area planning permission.
Wisbech Town Council and local police supported the application, after the owners had spent £1,800 on CCTV following a bout of vandalism when windows were smashed.
Councillor Steve Tierney, who spoke on behalf of the salon, urged councillors to make a “common sense decision”, saying: “Sometimes we look at bureaucracy instead of people.
“We should be saying ‘your windows look great get on with it’, there is no danger of setting a precedent here.”
However Fenland District Council planning committee said that, if approved, the application would have sent out “completely the wrong message” to other businesses.
It was also feared that the plastic windows would “represent an erosion of the building’s character” which is set in part of Wisbech Conservation Area.
Planning officers said they would now be taking the “appropriate enforcement steps” to deal with other businesses that have similar windows in the area.
Councillor Will Sutton said: “This is top five in the most difficult decisions we have had to make and if we wore our heart on our sleeves we would go ahead but I worry what would happen if we made an exception here. It would send out completely the wrong message.
“We all have sympathy but we have policies to stick by.”
Councillor Dee Laws said it was with a “heavy heart” that they would be refusing the whole application, as they would have been happy to approve the protective railings.
“This is a two-fold application, the first is the railings and I wish to make it clear that we have no problem with a business protecting their property,” she explained.
“This is heart-rending to say but I cannot see how we could approve this, but we have every sympathy for these people.”
In a statement read out to councillors by the Retreat’s owners, Paul and Marie Faulkner they said: “We are innocent victims in this situation. Wisbech is a lovely place to live but the anti-social behaviour and noise was very high so we changed the windows. If we were to replace them it would give us a vast expense.
“We cannot have anymore broken windows as it will look like an eyesore and impact on footfall.”
Cllr Tierney said after the meeting: “I also wanted to support them [Paul and Marie] because the rules are just plain stupid. They serve nobody. They are a paradise for bureaucrats, penpushers and over-promoted box tickers.
“They are supposed to protect our “heritage” but they don’t even do that. They are so woefully out-of-date and poorly-structured, that they are little more than a joke.”