It’s 8ft tall and 3ft wide, made of shiny white plastic and helpfully directs visitors to Imperial College’s Wye campus to all points north, east, south and west. The new sign — which appeared early this week — also tells passers-by that they are at Imperial College London and is accompanied by a shiny notice about ‘accessible parking’. Perhaps more importantly, the sign has been put up without planning permission and could be a criminal offence under the Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas Act.
We’ve asked Imperial College for a comment on the sign and whether it intends to apply for retrospective permission as it is within the curtilage of a Grade I listed building, in a conservation area and clearly affects the aspect of the listed property. We’ve also asked the college why a legally-protected pleached lime tree behind the Old Rectory has been felled without permission when this, too, is within the conservation area and requires permission. Both of these matters could be criminal offences under the terms of the act.
Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz recently said that he had a ‘strong democratic preference’ and the village is constantly told that any development of the campus will be subject to the normal planning procedures. In the light of these assurances and these apparent breaches of planning laws, we have also asked Imperial for a full statement on its attitude towards the legal process. We will post its comments when — and if — it responds.