Well, it seems I thought wrong. Apparently you don’t need an accurate proposal to get a planning application granted.
On Thursday 12th January Hart District Council enabled its planning officer to approve ‘on the nod’ (without the matter going to a full planning meeting of local councillors) plans to film RUSH on the disused areas of Blackbushe Airport.
This appeared to ignore the objections of statutory authorities like Natural England and Hampshire CC Rights of Way, who outlined the ways in which the application had not met with the basic requirements of any application to use the site.
My understanding is that work on construction of the set cannot start until 21 days from 12th January, during which time it is possible for Natural England (or another interested party) to lodge an objection with the Secretary of State for the Environment on the grounds that the applicant has not carried out the necessary environmental surveys, and is intent on constructing things (however temporarily) on common land.
Presumably, unless this happens, work on building the RUSH set will commence on or after 2nd February 2012 (assuming I’ve counted to 21 accurately).
However, on Friday 13th January I saw people appearing to measure out the 300m length of tarmac that the set is proposed to cover (see photo above), so it would seem that all possible preparations are being made in advance. But I also saw a rare heathland bird (not visible in the photo, left), keeping up appearances as it were!
Perhaps, if you’re a film company wanting to spend significant money in the local economy, the legal niceties of sticking to rules are more easily navigated than you or I might experience in our own lives. Or perhaps, there is some other over-riding reason for ignoring the objections of statutory authorities and laws.
Or perhaps I’m just becoming cynical in my old age?!
Tues 17th Jan 11:26am: Reports by email that set construction started yesterday with lorries unloading significant equipment – I will take camera and check later. What happened to the condition of planning permission dated 12th January that
“no development could take place for a p21 day period commencing the date that this permission is issued, to comply with Section 28l of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, as amended”
Tues 17th Jan 9am: Rush Films Ltd are obviously assuming (or know) that no further objections will be lodged as today they have hand delivered information leaflets to houses on the local Wordsworth estate (at least) explaining the film and filming process, and asking for those interested in being Extras on the set to contact them. Those wanting to take part will be expected to supply photographs of themselves and if successful grow their hair to fit better with the period (1976).
The Location Management team can be contacted regarding all matters relating to the set construction, filming, access and local environment and by potential supporting artists on firstname.lastname@example.org