The news cycle is a bit depressing at the moment, so this week we are revisiting the war that planning enforcement officers appear to be waging on cultural icons of the 70s and 80s.

In November, Star Wars memorabilia was in the firing line*, now it is the turn of Dr Who. In particular, a life-size replica of a Dalek, which has taken up residence in a garden shed outside a Grade II listed building in Northumberland. There is no news on whether the shed is bigger on the inside than the outside - although I suspect that if it was, that would be considered a breach of building regulations...

The owners of the Dalek, run the Museum of Classic Sci-Fi** from their Grade II listed property in Allendale. The listing of the property describes it as follows:

"House, late C18.  Squared stone with tooled dressings; stone slate roof, rebuilt brick ridge and gable stacks.  3 storeys and tall basement, 3 bays.  Stone stair in centre, up to 4-panel door in raised stone surround flanked by late  C19 sashes in older openings with wedge lintels and slightly projecting sills.  Similar windows to 2nd floor and similar but smaller windows to 3rd floor. At basement level a C20 garage door on left, a 9-pane fixed window on a boarded door on right."

Quite how Historic England would describe the Cybermen, Sonic Screwdrivers and swamp-beasts*** currently occupying the basement is unknown. 

Northumberland Council do not appear to object to the Monsters in the Basement, but have taken umbrage over the Dalek in the Shed. They have written to the property owner "to advise that this would require planning permission and, due to the listed status of the property, an application is unlikely to be supported."

Northumberland is not the only Council having issues with listed buildings this week. Newark Council is also up-in-arms over unauthorised works*^. In their case, the problem is not Daleks,  but pubs. To be specific, The White Hind in Newark-on-Trent, which has been inconveniently painted blue. 

The Council is not a fan of the new colour, stating that it is ' "not in keeping" with the listed building's place in a conservation area.'

The Owner of the, now incorrectly named, White Hind has been told he must apply for retrospective planning permission, which the Council is likely to oppose. 

What do both of these, mildly amusing, tales of enforcement have in common? They both involve Grade II listed buildings. This is significant for two reasons:

  1.  under the provisions of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, it is a criminal offence to carry out works to a listed building that "affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest" without listed building consent; and
  2.  Permitted development rights, which would often cover these types of minor works, are heavily restricted when it comes to listed buildings and conservation areas. As a result, a much wider range of works require planning consent than would normally be the case.

Now, I am not going to comment on whether a Dalek in a Shed could be considered in keeping with the character of an 18th century house*$; but given that tax took down Al Capone, then it is at least feasible that planning could exterminate the Daleks.

** More information on  the tale of the errant AT-ST can be found at:

**  if you are in the neighbourhood and fancy popping in their website is

*** not an accurate description of the exhibits. Although I do believe that they include a Cyberman...


*$ Dr Who is all about travel through space and time after all....