Non-contentious Plans Aren’t Always Best

by Mike Hardwick
28th January 2019

Back in November 2017, I was bemoaning the local planning department, who had given permission for two houses on a plot opposite mine, with absolutely no consideration to the fact that there was no turning head (a Building Regulations requirement).

This would make the scheme unworkable for the purchaser, and absolutely miserable for anyone living in the lane, as oil tanker drivers and delivery vehicles realised that their reversing skills were about to be tested to destruction.

Rereading the column I wrote, I can recall how angry I was at the time. Not because the land was being developed, but by the stupidity of a planning system so disconnected from the regs overseen by the office next door.

I thought I’d give you an update. Firstly, that article I wrote became very useful. Whenever I saw a prospective purchaser coming for a viewing, I’d scurry outside for a chat, tell them about anything they needed to know, and give them a complimentary copy of that earlier magazine with instructions to read my feature.

Armed with this information, they would beetle back to the estate agent and tell them that it was a lovely site, but what about the turning head? It had the desired effect and before long, the vendor was seen pacing around outside, scratching his head and wondering how the plans could be made to work.

On one plot, an underground trunk sewer that couldn’t be built over also complicated things. It pushed the proposed house forward, making the creation of a turning space very difficult – which is probably why there wasn’t one already.

I found out that a piece of land adjoining the sites had been sold a few years back to increase the garden of the dwelling next door, and subsequently clawed back.

The owners had emigrated and were renting out their old abode, so they weren’t particularly fussed to lose it. This became pivotal.

New drawings were produced showing how a suitable turning head could be incorporated using this new space. As an added bonus, the very average designs that had been submitted originally to get a ‘foot in the door’ without upsetting anyone were torn up.

A different architect – this one with a bit of talent – redrew new proposals for both homes, which look pretty good. I was relieved, because while putting in non-contentious (read: dull as ditch water) schemes is a well-known ruse to get planning approval, there’s always a risk that someone will actually build them!

So now things are going apace. The site is cleared, the houses have been marked out for the footings to be dug and the builders are nice people who seem to know what they are doing.

One of them will be living in one of the properties, which is a bonus on many levels. I have permission to take photos, so I will try to share some of these over the next few months.

Mike Hardwick is a regular expert at the Build It Live shows, presenting seminars and offering one-on-one advice. Find out how to book your tickets to visit Build It Live.

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