Not an open and shut case
PLANNING officials have admitted they are powerless to act over dozens of unauthorised roller shutters installed across the city centre.
A recent review found 66 shutters had been fitted without planning permission.
However, most were installed more than four years ago, making them immune from enforcement action.
The review was triggered by a complaint that enforcement action being taken over a recent shutter fitted to a property without planning consent was unfair because of the number of illegal shutters in the surrounding area.
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The review looked at three Conservation Areas in the city centre, covering the Old Town, the Jameson Street area and the Georgian New Town.
A total of 78 roller shutters fixed to shops and offices were counted.
None of the 14 properties with shutters recorded in the Georgian New Town had planning permission in place and the majority had external fittings and fixtures which did not meet planning guidelines.
In a report, city planning manager Alex Codd said: "Overall, it is clear there are many external shutters within the city centre conservation areas.
"During the day these are not too noticeable, although they are becoming more evident as shops become vacant.
"Many of these do not meet the local plan policy guidelines and do detract from the overall appearance of the conservation areas, particularly within the older parts."
Mr Codd said the four-year rule covering enforcement action by council officials meant little could done to resolve the problem.
He said the council's planning policies encouraged shutters to sit within shop fronts and to conceal shutter boxes within fascias.
Mr Codd said: "It is important new shutters are better design- ed to relate to a property.
"However, the existing shutters should not be taken as a precedent to allow inappropriate designs."
Councillors in the authority's planning committee will discuss the issue at a meeting tomorrow.