Riding roughshod over planning regulations - CPRE
PUBLISHED: 17:20 24 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:05 20 February 2013
It's fairly easy to build pretty much whatever you want in the countryside reckons Nicholas Butler of the Council for the Protection of Rural England, who reports on the case of a pair of 'cottages' in Admington.
The first application was perfectly innocent: replace a pair of semi-detached cottages with two detached houses. A pity, perhaps, for the cottages were plain, dignified and at least a hundred years old, but nothing to which anyone could take exception.
The property changed hands and the new owner applied to build two detached houses. Nothing wrong with that either; people prefer them.
The third application was to make one of the houses much larger. The Parish Council, in all innocence, raised no objection, but the case officer at the Stratford District Council should have done, because though the application was for a two storey house, the proposed ridge line was 10.5 metres high, ample room for a third storey, and a high pitched roof that fairly cried out for dormer windows.
So why did the Applicant not apply for three storeys? Because in the hamlet of Admington the houses are all two storeys high and there is a policy in the Stratford-upon-Avon Local Plan Review that says development proposals should respect the character and quality of the area with regard to shape, height and size.
The fourth application was for a mirror image house next to the first. This second house was also described as having two storeys and four bedrooms. The Parish Council, now concerned, wrote to the District Council: The mass of these two houses do not seem to balance with the size of the villageand do not fit in with the character of the other properties in the village.
As the first house was being built, neighbours voiced their concerns. So did the Ward Member, on a weekly basis. An enforcement officer called, and called again, but though he had a legal right to enter the property he did not do so. If he had he would have seen a second staircase up to a third storey. The residents asked for the work to be halted. The Head of Planning wrote to say that it was proceeding in accordance with the plans and if they had any complaints they should consult the ombudsman.
The Applicant submitted a revised application for the first house,
which was now pretty well complete, but despite objections from the Parish Council and the Ward Member the matter never went to committee. The completed house had three storeys, six bedrooms, and three huge dormer windows, none of which appeared on the plans.
The house dwarfs its neighbours and has ruined the character of Admingtons main and only street. The residents, the Parish Council and the Ward Member are all angry and disgusted. So is the Council for the Protection of Rural England.
But an ill wind it is. That property sold for 1,395,500. The plans for the other house, which have been passed, contain a second staircase up to an area called storage and as night follows day we can expect another three storey house with six bedrooms.
Earlier this year we held a public meeting at the local village hall at which we taxed the Head of Planning about every detail of this sordid case, but he blandly rebutted our charges and admitted no wrongdoing of any kind. The developer, who was present, albeit mute, was surely delighted?
And that is how you can make a laughing stock of your local planning authority and become very rich into the bargain. It is really very easy to do.