12 Jan 2007

A couple decided to build an extension to the rear of their modest terraced home, close to the centre of one of our larger cities. A planning application was made to the relevant authority and in due course approved. The work involved the construction of a simple, single storey, double height element tucked neatly away into the back garden where it couldn’t be seen. 

Work began on site. A few weeks into the project, a curious neighbour stopped by and by quizzing the contractor discovered that a small change was being made to the original design: the client made a last minute decision to insert a mezzanine level into the double height space to make a library or some such.

The curious neighbour reported the matter to the relevant Planning Authority. The planner passed the matter onto the enforcement people who began proceedings to have the mezzanine stopped.  

The architect and client were aghast. They contacted the planning authority and rightly pointed out that the legislation is quite categorical that minor, ‘non material’ modifications to the interior of private residences are really not the purlieu of the planning authorities. But the planner responded that the matter was out of his/her hands and that the awful fuss (not to mention the expense) of dealing with proceedings was unavoidable.

I’ve come across situations like this from time to time and usually the planning authorities stick to the rules and don’t cause unnecessary and petty hassle.

Perhaps, in this case, they were swayed by the fact that the curious neighbour was a quite prominent citizen?

Mmm. When the Day of Judgment comes, I really do hope that the Lord God comes down hard on people who do this kind of thing. 


Keep your stories of frustrating planning experiences coming. I really love to wallow in other people’s misery. And look at it from your perspective - it pays to get these things off your chest. So its, like,  win win.

I’m off to make the site more interesting looking and I’ll be back with graphics next time.

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