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planning woes

(26 Posts)
B52s Fri 17-Aug-12 14:17:16

We wanted a loft conversion, called the town planning department to be told it could be done under permitted development and no planning permission was required, so we started work. Two weeks off finishing, the council wrote to us after someone complained stating that we do need planning permission as we are in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. We have stopped work but have spent about £15k so far, and are now getting consultants in to put together our planning permission request.

The bottom has fallen out of my world, the DS's are sharing a room, we have a half-finished loft and may have to put it back to how it was, which we can't afford.

If the council had originally said we needed planning permission, we would have requested it before we started any work, but they said we didn't need it. Now we do.

I feel sick and can't eat, or sleep. Have to keep going for the 2 DS's though. Why does this always happen to us?

Montblanc Fri 17-Aug-12 14:19:57

Do you have it in writing that the council said you could do it under permitted development?

So sorry this is happening, I can't imagine a loft conversion being refused unless it's particularly garish but I don't know much about these things.

B52s Fri 17-Aug-12 14:25:03

No, it was just a phone call. I have the name, time and date of when I made it (Friday 13th - of course), but nothing in writing. DH has been speaking with the Enforcement Officer who sounds reasonable enough but with our luck we'll have to tear it down. It's a dormer across the back of the house, if we were 1/4 mile north we wouldn't be in an AONB so it would be permitted. I am heart-broken - and for my boys.

GrendelsMum Fri 17-Aug-12 14:25:14

But as far as you know, you may still very well apply for planning permission and have it granted? There's no reason to suppose that it will be denied from what you've said, just that you do need to have it.

Even if you do apply for planning permission and are subsequently turned down with your existing plans, it's an all or nothing situation - you can go to appeal, or you could adapt your existing plans.

I think you've leapt straight to the worst possible scenario (which is very understandable) when there doesn't seem any reason to imagine this is the case.

B52s Fri 17-Aug-12 14:33:43

Yes, planning permission may be granted. There are plenty of extensions and conservatories in our street already, but we would have the first dormer window on the estate. It worries me that there is a reason for that.

It was due to be finished in 2 weeks - the dormer is up and rendered, but planning takes at least 8 weeks to come through, so there's 2 months of not knowing - I'm not sure how I'll cope with that.

God I feel so stupid.

B52s Fri 17-Aug-12 15:57:29

The consultant reckons we won't get permission with it as it is and may have to change the structure drastically. I don't know how much that's going to cost. Feels awful.

B52s Fri 17-Aug-12 16:04:59

I feel sick reading my own posts.
Sorry - sinking into a world of doom. I don't know what to do.

Sausagedog27 Fri 17-Aug-12 16:06:25

I'd put in a complaint to the ombudsman- appalling behaviour if the council had advised that no consent was required. I hope that the council are reasonable in handling this- for info 8weeks is just a target- in reality it can be pushed through after 4 weeks so I'd pressure the council for a resolution ASAP.

Also if it is bad news- you can appeal the decision. Or just leave it and wait until they take enforcement action, this is quite rare IMHO and they would have to tread carefully. You could also contact your local member and explain the situation, they can put pressure on internally as well.

B52s Fri 17-Aug-12 16:15:32

Thankyou Sausage. The consultant suggested we write to the council enforcement officer in reply to his letter explaining the situation and asking whether planning is likely to be approved, and if not, on what grounds, so we can work with that.

I thought we were doing everything by the book!

spoonsspoonsspoons Fri 17-Aug-12 18:00:02

Did building control not flag up that you needed planning permission?

B52s Fri 17-Aug-12 19:01:52

No, Spoons, they said we didn't need planning as it was a permitted development. I checked with the duty planning officer who said no planning permission was required. So we went ahead, and now, 2 weeks off finishing, find out that original advice was wrong.

The building regs inspector who came round said everything was okay, but building regs and planning dept are two separate entities.

spoonsspoonsspoons Fri 17-Aug-12 19:19:19

Just wondered as where I work building control will check if planning permission has been granted. I guess in this case if the duty planning officer wasn't aware that it couldn't be carried out under permitted development then the building control officer wouldn't either.

Were you asked for an address when you spoke to the duty planner? Were you aware you were in an aonb? It's always wise to get these sorts of things in writing. I'm not sure where you stand if you only had verbal confirmation.

B52s Fri 17-Aug-12 19:41:43

We knew we are near an AONB, but didn't realise it covered the estate as well. I gave the address to the Duty Planning Officer, but only got a verbal confirmation. We are now trying to apply, but a box dormer is apparently unlikely to get it.

B52s Fri 17-Aug-12 19:51:43

Thankyou for all your help, am off on holiday tomorrow, will update (if there is one) when we return.

B52s Fri 31-Aug-12 15:17:32

Not much further with it really. Have spoken with a solicitor, AONB people and another consultant. Will probably have to compromise if the council will agree to that (although will cost thousands) and if not, will have to re-instate the roof but will hopefully get the Ombudsman involved then to get the council to help pay.
Still not eating or sleeping, but feeling better than 2 weeks ago.

GrendelsMum Fri 31-Aug-12 16:21:26

So do you have to replace your dormer window with a Velux window?

It's a shame you've gone through all this hassle, upset and expense, but I'm sure the room will be just as nice for your DS. I had a loft conversion with a Velux for ages, and it was lovely!

B52s Mon 03-Sep-12 12:13:57

Looks like it GrendelsMum. We won't have space for 2 rooms up there though, we wanted a double and a small spare. We wanted a spare room, but now we will have gone from a 3 bed to a 3 bed house which cost about £30k. So we wouldn't have done that. Just depressing really.

Seeline Mon 03-Sep-12 12:20:20

Have you actually submitted a planning application yet? Wait and see what the outcome of that is. If permission is refused you have the right to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate. In my experience, it is unusual for domestic addtions to have to be completely removed. Keep discussing things with the planning department and see if you can get them to agree a compromise that suits you. You can always submit a second application for a revised proposal. Hope things work out for you.

dinkystinky Mon 03-Sep-12 12:22:30

Even for permitted development you should have submitte plans to the planning dept no? If so, why didnt they pick up on it earlier?

dinkystinky Mon 03-Sep-12 12:23:24

p.s. worth going around the neighbourhood with camera taking photos of loft conversions that have been done to prove there is "precedent" in connection with the loft conversion planning application you're now having to make. Good luck.

Mandy21 Mon 03-Sep-12 12:30:35

Did you tell the planning officer everything that was involved in your plans i.e. saying you were having a box dormer rather than just saying it was a loft conversion. Have you spoken to the actual person you spoke to when you initially rang? I think the problem you will have is that most councils (and this is a sweeping generalisation so I could well be wrong) say that they will give "general" guidance over the telephone but nothing is to be relied upon until the council have considered your plans / put something in writing.

I would also wonder why your builder / architect didn't think that you'd need planning permission. As far as I know box dormers (whether its an AONB or not) are not likely to be classed as permitted development.

Hope you get it resolved though!

B52s Tue 04-Sep-12 15:18:39

There's loads of 'should haves' and 'what ifs' I am thinking now. There is no precedent for a dormer on our estate, box or traditional. Both builders who quoted said it would be a permitted development, as did the duty planning officer (verbal only). Permitted development doesn't need plans at all, so the only dealings with the council beforehand was to check we weren't in any area which would mean we'd need planning permission. We were advised we weren't and didn't need to get a permitted development certificate either, so we went ahead.

We have commissioned a planning consultancy firm to help us try and get retrospective planning, but I'm not hopeful.

We are a parish council but I don't know if they decide on planning or accept the councils recommendations.

Seeline, we are doing what you suggest.

B52s Mon 26-Nov-12 15:41:53

WE GOT PLANNING PERMISSION!!!!! Just heard, so happy, it's been such a fight. I am going to make an official complaint to the council about the whole way it was handled. It cost an extra 2 grand to get, but will be worth it.

higgle Mon 26-Nov-12 16:19:40

Well done! so pleased to hear your god news.

NorthPolo Mon 26-Nov-12 19:52:43

Congratulations, what a relief for you

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