by Jez Bond

It strikes me that with my various blogs alluding to the mountain of paperwork required to get through planning, the frustrations of having to conform to legislation and the difficulty of co-ordinating documents, I have almost entirely dismissed the planners.

Deep within 222 Upper Street they sit, the patient few, leafing through our contribution to deforestation – a waste they neither desire nor like. We feel the weight of bureaucracy through them, but it is truly far further along the chain where the legislature which demands such excess of paperwork is created.

Ever since we embarked on the project, the council have been supportive. Not in a way as to prejudice any decision, as of course one needs to go through the process of consultation with the public and with local councillors all of whom will have a say in the final decision. No, in a way that simply gave us the time we needed to come up with the best possible solutions to achieve our aims.

We were very lucky to have had a handful of meetings at the pre-application stage, which I understand is a lot more than the usual. We met with the access officer on a number of occasions and, given her fantastic experience in theatre, she was able to guide us through the maze of legislation and look at effective ways of making our space as good as possible within the constraints of the existing building.

But through all of this it was our assigned planning officer who led the team for the council and who held our hand through much of the process. Indeed the relationship we have with her is such that changes we are discussing have always been put to her for advice. If it wasn’t for her amenity we would have found the recent last minute changes far harder to bear. But understanding our passion and our drive – and my lack of experience in this challenging build – she graced us with a helping hand. So here’s to our planning officer – she can’t accept a seat for opening night but I’m keeping one free just in case!

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