Lessons Learnt

What follows is a letter to the RSGB who kindly supported Armando Martins after his nightmare neighbours had Canterbury City Council remove his antenna. We ran the Armando Martins Campaign which saw 35000 people sign a petition to restore what are his rights under planning law. While the council workers involved were keen to re-house him, sadly this restoration was never completely fulfilled and he has now lost the use of his 30′ Mast and Compact Tribander.

Imagine putting up an Amateur Radio Antenna of any description or applying for planning permission when you have neighbours like this: https://tinyurl.com/y3sq27r4

Read on.

“You asked if I would keep you up to date with Martins’ M0PAM planning appeal.  Apologies for the delay, Martins has been away and the appeal was dismissed in January. 

As it was a foregone conclusion, Martins won’t be contesting the decision. By studying the information you provided and experimenting, he now has all the information he needs to achieve radio performance with or without planning permission.  If you are interested, what follows are lessons learnt from his engagements with the LPA and Inspectorate.

In summary, ironically it has taken 2 years of process to get to this point, and the best advice, to take a different approach came from the conclusion of the planning inspectorates report.  This, when Martins repeatedly asked the LPA for advice on how best to approach the design during the application stage.

Current Activity

Martins is in the advanced stage of his planned legal action after the city council promised to move him to a place where he could use his mast and away from his nightmare neighbours.  Well aware of the dimensions, his housing department said they would check before offering him a move.  The dismissal of his appeal confirms this never happened and that he accepted the move on their advice, when it would not have been acceptable.  He is seeking costs for a replacement, an apology and compensation.

Planning Application and Subsequent Appeal

Parallel to the appeal Martins experience was reported to the Local Government Ombudsman (the complaint referred to above).  This was about the conduct of the LPA and planning committee which affected Martins’ right to a fair hearing.  (His MP is following this up as there was no response). 

The Public Services Experience

I took time to review events against what the ombudsman is saying about the quality and capability of public services to deliver ethical and lawful services.  A report by the Ombudsman was released in November 2018 entitled Under Pressure.  This may explain why Martins’ housing department thought they could prevent him from using de-minimis and permitted developments on the strength of an email.  They simply don’t have the brains any more.

The concern is now:

  • We think both the LPA and Planning Inspectorate have made arbitrary decisions, Giving little by way of evidence to support them.  Both inspectors having spent very little time on site and taken no sightings or measurements.  In general the quality of reporting – the data used to inform the planning committee decision we think was insufficient for its purpose.  We think that irresponsible, considering this has affected his life over several years, and the objectives in NPPF are to support him in maintaining his wellbeing.  (They failed therefore).
  • The inspectorate repeated the process carried out by the LPA with the same conclusion.
     
  • The inspectorates report is almost a carbon copy of that used in his previous appeal at Herne Bay.  The process is identical.  
     
  • Others have been granted planning permission in the same period for similar or more complex installations.
  • No standards were mentioned in any report and these use jargon, as far as we can see no measurements were taken which could have been offered as evidence.  In effect, their reports rely on subjective evidence contrary to NPPF18.
  • At no time was any test structure put in place.  We think it would be reasonable and simple to do this, over a period of time in order to confirm the results of any findings.
     
  • The guidelines at PPG 8 which we take to be current according to NPPF 18, were avoided throughout.

 
While KCC has a very good planning guide,  compared to the process Martins’ has just experienced it bears no relation.  We described his experience as a fast track (sic) to a dismissal (which is final) noting several opportunities where he could have been advised by the LPA to change to a more acceptable design, but instead was railroaded towards a committee decision to refuse.

We also notice that throughout Kent and the East Kent Area a number of prominent antenna systems similar in shape and size to the proposal exist.  We conclude the process is in disrepute in Kent on the grounds that it seems to be one rule for the others, and another for Martins. 

All we think needed to be said we have highlighted already – this was largely ignored.

Ongoing Work
Martins wishes to get on with his life and will be proceeding in accordance with RSGB Guidelines after modifying his designs.

We think the inspectorate’s decision could spell trouble for others as it seems to be saying it was upheld because a single neighbour might complain and it was an eyesore. 

According to Neighbourhood Watch Only 54% of Neighbours want to get on with their neighbours.  They don’t say what percentage are indifferent or intolerant or have the kind of sadistic tendencies Martins, et al have encountered during nightmare neighbour attacks.  Imagine putting an antenna up or applying for planning permission with neighbours like this?  https://tinyurl.com/y3sq27r4 and then being told it’s not a planning matter?”

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