Masons accused in hall wrangle

A PLANNING inspection to determine the future of an historic building in Portishead has been subject to some dirty tricks, according to those who want the site preserved.

Owners of the Masonic Hall in Pier Road, a former station and ticket office, want to see it turned into six flats and a two-bed house. Permission was refused by North Somerset Council, after more than 70 objections were made against the planning application but the Masons who own the hall then lodged an appeal.

Residents living near to the site say they are unhappy with the way the application has been presented by the Masons and feel that unnecessary underhandedness has gone on in the quest to get the application approved.

Karge Zoha who lives near the site says he complained after information he had supplied objecting to the plans was doctored in favour of the application in a document submitted by the agent.

North Somerset Council has confirmed that it subsequently removed the document from its planning website.

An inspection of the 1860s building due to take place on March 22 was then aborted after the inspectors were advised that a ‘large group of hostile protestors’ was present.

It is understood the agent representing the Masons had made the report to the inspectorate after talking with Portishead resident Annette Hennessy at the site.

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Mrs Hennessy says that apart from anglers and walkers, she and Mr Zoha, were the only people in the area at the time and for someone to report a large crowd or use the word hostile, was a fabrication of the truth.

David Mason, named as the applicant on the planning application, said: “As we understand it an inspection should be conducted without any interference from anyone on either side of the argument, and therefore our agent felt it necessary to advise the inspectors that there were interested parties on site.

“Our agent was their solely because he had the keys to the premises, not to engage in any matters with the inspector.”

The inspection will now be rescheduled.

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