Let's make it absolutely clear from the outset: this is war!
In October of last year I engaged an architect to create a set of drawings for an extension to my house. Now, we're not talking about anything outlandish or extrovert that Tracey Emin would enter for a Turner Prize! No, this was a simple, four walls and a roof.
Now don't start thinking I'm going all broody and making space for babies. The only pitter patter of tiny feet you're likely to hear in my house is either a small yappy-type dog or a seagull walking across the flat roof. This was simply a need for more space. As one gets older one needs more space to collect even more "stuff" that you simply must have. Apart from that, I work full time from home and I'm at the stage where I need an office to go to, rather than my laptop on my knee in front of the telly watching Cash In The Attic or Neighbours. Which reminds me, I'll need to write this quickly as the next episode is on soon, and I must know the latest about Paul Robinson!
By late February I had received a refusal from the council, and arranged a meeting with the planning officer that had made the decision. Between myself and my architect, Dave, we had redesigned the extension, and the planning officer, quote, "really liked the new design" and recommended reapplying.
So we did.
Then two weeks ago a decision was reached . . . refused!
Turns out the planning officer we had met with had moved on, and his replacement didn't agree with him, so we were back to square one. So we have another meeting, and another redesign, and again the new planning officer "really likes the new design". So she agrees to discuss it "in principal" with her team before we reapply. Their decision?
You'd think I was proposing to knock down a hundred year-old stone built building, and erect a 4-storey Miami-style block of flats, painted bright white, that won't match anything in the conservation area, and block out light to existing flats that have stood nearby for almost 200 years! I mean, that would obviously get refused, wouldn't it?
Well, actually, no! Just five years ago the council approved exactly that! Just like the Great wall Of China, you can see it from space!
Given that my proposal is to build something with locally sourced, environmentally friendly, and at times recycled, materials, built to match the existing styles, circa early 1800's, I cannot understand the opposition.
So now it's time to bring in the big guns. An independent planning expert who hasn't lost an appeal in 22 years! And the council shiver with fear at the very mention of her name!
So it's gloves off! No more Mr nice guy!