I was almost convinced that common sense was breaking out in the Planning Committee when the case of the "Unauthorised replacement of a garden wall in the Grange Conservation Area" came before us.
The householder had replaced his front garden wall after he noticed that it was starting to lean and he was concerned that it might become dangerous. (He produced a letter from his builder that the wall had in fact originally been built without foundations and this was why over the years it had gradually started to lean).
The replacement wall looked quite nice to me, dwarf brick to about 2 feet and then iron railings up to the pillar height at each end of the wall. A matching set of driveway gates completed the renovations. Unfortunately for the householder he had neglected to get planning permission so he was instructed to apply for retrospective permission, which he subsequently did. The recommendation to the planning committee was to "REFUSE" which would then have required him to knock it down and replace it with something more suitable.
If for one minute I'd thought the householder was trying to pull a fast one and deliberately get round planning controls then I might (for a few seconds at least) have thought about making him knock it down. But, we were not discussing an unauthorised block of flats in the middle of a green belt! These were perfectly nice walls, gates and railings. The Committee threw out the recommendation and granted approval. The householder and his wife were obviously pleased (and no doubt relieved since knocking down the wall and rebuilding something "approved" would not have been cheap) in fact I thought the lady was going to cry when the application was granted.
Common sense in planning, you can tell there is an election coming!