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How to submit an Imperial planning application
(and not have it sent back to you!)

Yardstick, April 2001, contributed by Warwick Cairns

If you have ever submitted a Planning Application - e.g. for structural work to your house - you will know that all the dimensions have to be in metric measures; otherwise, if you've shown everyday British measures, the chances are you'll have had it returned to you. Unless, that is, you do it the way I did recently, which is - in a nutshell - to use the common measures descriptively, and the equivalent metric measures pedantically and ridiculously.

Let me explain. I put in an application to have a six-foot by two-foot-six gate in my garden wall, so that is what I said on the form: "a six-foot by two-foot-six gate". But those, you see, weren't the official measurements. Oh no, they were just a description of the sort of gate that was intended, like "a red gate" or "a wooden gate".

For the proper measurements, I translated 6' x 2'6" into their metric equivalents to such a mock-scientific degree of pointless accuracy that (a) they were of no use to man or beast and (b) it was painfully obvious that I was making fun of the metric requirements, but (c) I was nevertheless obeying the law to the letter. So my application read: "a six-foot by two-foot-six gate, measuring approximately 1.8288m high by approximately 0.7620m wide". And the result: well, the permission came through within a month!

Hmm…I notice that there's another metric unit called the Angstrom. And 2'6" in Angstroms is 7,620,000,000. I wonder…Maybe next time!

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