I’ve spent the whole of this week buried in planning policy. Not by choice so please, I deserve the blue tights and the red cape. I’ve been defending the family home: the developers are coming!
With Britain’s housing crisis continuing, this is a common problem. You read about the iceberg basements in London causing subsidence in the street, or reams of rabbit hutches spoiling villages in the countryside. Even so, it’s a shock when it happens to you.
Minted HQ is located in what estate agents might call prime suburbia. It’s on a longish lane, almost countrified, with big houses and large gardens. The only problem is that many of the residents seem intent on destroying the reason why they bought here in the first place. Knockdown-rebuild, split into two, extension up, down and sideways – this originally spacious, gracious street is fast becoming somewhat cramped.
So, when Mr and Mrs Breakground next door applied to build an additional house on their already smallish plot, I had to take action. Especially when it will look straight into my (until now) completely private garden.
When your home is under threat, it’s hard not to get emotional. Like many other people, my house is my biggest financial asset. It’s also my sanctuary and is fundamental in creating stability for my kids. To challenge that is indeed a call to arms.
I’ve contested a similar case in the past so I know what to do. I called the consultant I used then but – horror – he didn’t want my business. (Had I been hysterical last time and not in a good way?) With the deadline for objections looming fast, I didn’t have many other ideas. Lawyers are horribly expensive while the cheaper options, planning consultants, all seemed to be boasting about achieving, not preventing, planning permission on their websites. I decided to four-letter word it and do it myself.
Actually it wasn’t that hard once I’d got my head around the jargon. It’s like any legal stuff, it’s all in the interpretation of the original policy. You just have to find the relevant bits in the policy documents and quote them to support your case. With help from a standard letter from the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) website, I managed to patch together and submit my objection. And saved a few hundred quid in the process.
So we’ll wait and see. In the meantime, I’ve written a quick guide here for anyone contemplating their own battle. Are you in a similar situation? I know how grim it is – tell us about it in the comments below.