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Just what DO we want to build?

Sue B

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I uploaded my draft floor plans a while ago and I have lived with them a while and am fairly content that they will meet our needs.

 

We have one elderly parent left  who we could easily argue needs to move in with us ( that is closer to the truth than I like to think about as it is my MIL not my own mum).  That gives us the need to a downstairs bedroom and en-suite.  Everything else is fairly normal but of reasonably generous proportions in line with most self builds. We hope to have a comfortable, energy efficient home that we can live in for as long as possible.  Our need to move as we get older and frailer will be more to do with the lane that we live on and our inability to get the 1 mile down the track to the nearest corner shop than the house with luck.  Low maintenance is a biggie for us of course - we have no wish to be doing regular maintenance as we get older.

 

We have appointed an architect technician to look at my floor plans and check that it is buildable but we have given them permission to come up with better ideas if they can.  The house will run from east to west - the longest wall faces south and I have planned an overhang from the floor above along the entire length of that wall to keep the ground floor cooler in the summer.  The only window I have planned on the first floor facing south is on the stair well.  The east and west balconies will again give shade to the bedroom windows hopefully helping to keep them cool in the summer aswell - a woman of my age needs no help at all to get to hot, especially overnight.

 

I've posted these plans before but as this thread is going to be all about the design i thought it would be a good starting point so that we can see the progression up to and including planning consent being granted (note the confindence in that sentence :) ).

 

My intention was to have a flat roof so the house would have a very modern look - all render and block like with maybe a little wood cladding as a feature to break up the render in a couple of places.  The architects are trying to talk me out of the flat roof as they believe we will struggle to get the plans approved as they are not in keeping with other houses in the area.  It's a bit hard to know what other houses they may consider as our nearest neighbours are horses on each side who do have stables but tend not to object to planning permission so long as they get a carrot or apple in payment.  Neither plot is likely to get planning appoval for a house in my lifetime (one side has tried and failed).  Very few plots down the lane have lawful houses on them but there are a few plots occuplied by one of more travelling caravans, most of which have enforcement notices served on them.  So finding what is "normal" is a little tricky.  The SSSI which we are close to is a hill that is home to a number of reptiles.  We have walked up the hill many times and you cannot see our house from anywhere on the hill, you can see the end of the plot, but not the house.

 

I understand that flat roofs have inherant issues that require careful detailing by good roofers - I have been reading @pocster's thread today to remind me of how badly things can go.  I don't like flat roofs.  However I like the look of PV panels even less but I know that I want them.  We have considered putting the PV panels in one of the paddocks on a ground mount system but the dogs love rompng up and down like idiots.  Having space for them to run was one of the big drivers for our move so filling up ground with panels is not something I want to do.  A flat roof to me would be the lesser of the two evils and it means I can have PV panels facing any direction that I want.  

 

So here are the opions I am seeking from the collective:

 

Is a flat roof a sensible compromise to allow PV panels to be hidden from my view?

Is it worth having PV panels facing east, south and west to get the optimum solar generation?

What limits are there on PV generation - I saw something today mentioning 4kw and not sure what dictates that?

I know we won't be getting the FIT tariff so is there anything stopping us going above the 4kw limit (if that is what it is) and just "wasting" the excess if that is possible so that we don't overload the network?

 

As you can probably tell, I know very little about PV but am reading whatever I can find.  I've been meaning to put this thread up for a while now and seeing @Russell griffiths post about solar panels reminded me to pull my finger out and ask the questions.

 

Thank you

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How frustrating! You would think they are purposely forcing you to take this step because they are not competent enough to make the decision.

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4 hours ago, Sue B said:

Yesterday afternoon we decided to go for non-determination.  So it looks like a six month delay now before a decision is made.  Bloody incompetent planners 😡😡

Hang on in there ! . If I don’t give up after a 5 year battle then neither should you ! 💪

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Oh how long ago that last post seemed.  

So a quick recap.

Planning put in April 23rd 2019.  

In September we went for non-determination to the planning inspectorate,  fairly confident as a similar property a few plots up had been approved with a surprisingly similar design.

We knew the approx. waiting time for the planning inspectorate was 6 months but as we'd lost the  winter anyway, what did we have to lose?

The site visit from the inspectorate was arranged for 24th March....... Yep, that was  cancelled by the lockdown!

Finally we get our site inspection 18th May.  We did what we were told - opened the gate, let him wander round by himself and off he toddled.

We got the refusal on Thursday.

 

The architect was furious but to be honest, I was so fed up by that stage, any answer was better than nothing.  There is no appeal of course and apparently because we are more than a year since the application went in, we are unable to get a free go with the next planning application.  The architect is drawing up a second design with no charge - that is the contract that we had so good news on that front.

 

So we are back to square one.  We may as well go back to the drawing board and re-think exactly what we want from scratch.  It will have to be a chalet bungalow to reduce volume but I know we can easily lose a bedroom without causing us an issue.

The journey starts again but we are perilously close to not being able to fulfil the dream of a nice house here!  We are getting older and will need a mortgage to build.  We are borderline now over the affordability of the mortgage because of the short repayment period that we will be forced into so all a bit doom and gloom right now.

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On 12/04/2019 at 18:14, pocster said:

That walk on glazing is affordable 😎😎😎😎😎

 

oh @pocster - after all this time we will not be having a flat roof, we may not have a roof at all of course!!

 

Sorry, looks like you are back to ebay 😢

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10 hours ago, Sue B said:

 

oh @pocster - after all this time we will not be having a flat roof, we may not have a roof at all of course!!

 

Sorry, looks like you are back to ebay 😢

You were my favourite as well ! 😷😂

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11 hours ago, Sue B said:

Oh how long ago that last post seemed.  

So a quick recap.

Planning put in April 23rd 2019.  

In September we went for non-determination to the planning inspectorate,  fairly confident as a similar property a few plots up had been approved with a surprisingly similar design.

We knew the approx. waiting time for the planning inspectorate was 6 months but as we'd lost the  winter anyway, what did we have to lose?

The site visit from the inspectorate was arranged for 24th March....... Yep, that was  cancelled by the lockdown!

Finally we get our site inspection 18th May.  We did what we were told - opened the gate, let him wander round by himself and off he toddled.

We got the refusal on Thursday.

 

The architect was furious but to be honest, I was so fed up by that stage, any answer was better than nothing.  There is no appeal of course and apparently because we are more than a year since the application went in, we are unable to get a free go with the next planning application.  The architect is drawing up a second design with no charge - that is the contract that we had so good news on that front.

 

So we are back to square one.  We may as well go back to the drawing board and re-think exactly what we want from scratch.  It will have to be a chalet bungalow to reduce volume but I know we can easily lose a bedroom without causing us an issue.

The journey starts again but we are perilously close to not being able to fulfil the dream of a nice house here!  We are getting older and will need a mortgage to build.  We are borderline now over the affordability of the mortgage because of the short repayment period that we will be forced into so all a bit doom and gloom right now.

I’m real sorry to hear this . I know exactly what it is like . The more I get told ‘no’ the more determined I become . What were the reasons for refusal ?

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How long ago that all seems.  

 

The architect came back with essentially the same design but with a pitched roof - making the house a chalet bungalow.  I had told them that I was happy to remove a bedroom to reduce bulk but they said it wasn't necessary.  I really liked the look of the new house - flat roofs were never a choice I was completely happy with but merely to give choice for solar panels.

Anyway...  Planning went in early November and was accepted by the end of the month with a decision date of 15th January.  January came and went, as did February, March and April.  We phoned, our agent phoned and emailed.  We were told that workload was a real issue for the planning department - oh how we sobbed for their poor little paws, grinding away at their WFH desks, not actually giving us a decision on our planning.

In the end, on Tuesday this week, I emailed a complaint to the council complaint email address, copying in my two local councillors and my MP (Sir Chris Chope of the Upskirting fame 🥵).  By Tuesday night I had a response from one of the councillors promising to investigate the next day.

My complaint had a bit of background and then ...

 

My questions are therefore:

  • Why bother having a decision deadline if there is no attempt to meet it?
  • How long can we reasonably be expected to wait before a decision is made?
  • What are the consequences of us starting work now due to your inability to make a decision?  I believe that we have now reached the point where your silence can be accepted as approval by default.  You have failed to reject the application, therefore it is passed.
  • What recompense will you offer for the ridiculous delay?

 

We have requested a telephone call so that we can at least have a discussion about the likelihood of the application being successful – the chance to put things right if the outcome is going to be rejection.  We hear nothing.

We offer an extension – gratefully accepted but the extension deadline comes and passes with no news.

 

You are playing with peoples lives – it is immoral and a failure of your core duties as a council.

 

Under the freedom of information act, I am now formally requesting a detailed breakdown of:

 

Number of applications made for each calendar year going back to 2017 (and year to date for 2021)

The average number of days an application had to wait between submission and acceptance for each of those 5 years and for this part year to date.

The number of applications that were decided upon earlier than the deadline date

The number of applications that were decided upon later than the deadline date

The average number of days late for all late decisions, per year, for each of the 5 years and one part year.

The average number of days early for all early decisions, per year, for each of the 5 years and one part year.

 

For all rejected applications:

The number of applications from developers

The number of applications from self builders / home owners

The number of applications that councillors had declared an interest in.

 

For all approved applications:

The number of applications from developers

The number of applications from self builders / home owners

The number of applications that councillors had declared an interest in.

 

The reason for requesting this information is my need to see if all members of the public are treated this badly or if we are a special case.  We just want to get on with our lives and we are getting to an age where time is against us and we may not be able to actually build our house due to the delays we have encountered.

 

I knew I was stirring a hornets nest but figured I had little to lose.  

 

The response was fast and furious - by Wednesday evening the agent (architect) had received the (non) decision notice...

 

You are hereby advised that the Council has invoked its power under Section 70(a) of the Town & Country Planning Act (1990) to decline to determine your application. In accordance with the legislation, your application is regarded as withdrawn and no further action will be taken in respect of the proposal. There is no right of appeal against the Council invoking its power under Section 70(a). We will arrange for your application fee to be refunded. If you wish to submit a further application for the replacement of this dwelling, you are advised to use the Council’s Pre-application advice service first in order to ensure you are addressing the reasons for the dismissal of the previous appeal. This will involve a significant reduction in the height, bulk, floorspace and footprint of the current proposals in order to comply with green belt policy.

 

So we now have NO planning permission in place for any dwelling on our site.  The agent has never heard of the council (he used to work for them) deciding to decline to determine the application.

 

Chope has responded sympathetically (but with no offer of helping to stop the nonsense that goes on in council offices) stating that regardless of the outcome, the council could and should have made the decision months ago.

 

Then to make things even weirder, I get an email from the planning enforcement officer offering to come and speak with me to move things forward.  We spoke yesterday and it seems they were worried I was going to start building the house that we got planning permission for in 2017 that expired during the time of waiting for a decision.  He totally understood my frustration of course - but advised us to go for pre-planning advice - oh how I laughed!  I explained the waiting time for pre-planning advice and the futility of asking for advice from planning officers (we have 50+ years of local government service between Peter and I to know what planners are like).  

 

Next step - hornets nest is already angry, probably worth adding to it so the next FOI request will be how many times have the council declined to determine an application and also a SAR to see what they have in their records about me.

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@Sue B I realky feel your pain and frustation .

You’ve acted exactly as i would ( i swear a lot more though )

Record ALL conversations . Buy a recording pen - not from ebay ! . A professional espionage one ; like I did .

They don’t like you now so (expletive deleted) ‘em .

Go for broke .

An issue is the height of the build yes ?.

One of my meetings with the council went ... ( all recorded of course )

 

” I will make sure you never get planning until the day i retire “

 

me “ when do you retire ? “


” 7 years “

 

me “ fine no problem “

 

” you cant build up , back , forward nor left or right “

 

(expletive deleted)er didnt say i couldnt build down 

 

I in the end put in planning for a large garage for my extensive car collection consisting of 1 smart car . 
This was approved 

I then put other things in place one at a time over the years to avoid any suspicion .

 

Once the chessboard was setup i then went for change of use .

 

I beat the (expletive deleted)ers at the twatty council vote .

 

Dont be kind be cunning . Dont be afraid to be bloody minded and aggressive .

Many ways to skin a cat . The cat will be skinned no matter how blunt the knife is .

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Trust me - I swear like a trooper

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2 hours ago, pocster said:

 

I in the end put in planning for a large garage for my extensive car collection consisting of 1 smart car . 

Funnily enough, my conversation with the enforcement officer yesterday did talk about permitted development - it’s hard to see if we still have it or not at the moment.  So he said he’d look for me - he actually seemed like a decent guy.

I said if we did still have it, I would find numerous “sheds” built quite nicely that all fitted together...

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6 hours ago, Sue B said:

Funnily enough, my conversation with the enforcement officer yesterday did talk about permitted development - it’s hard to see if we still have it or not at the moment.  So he said he’d look for me - he actually seemed like a decent guy.

I said if we did still have it, I would find numerous “sheds” built quite nicely that all fitted together...

Go underground 😉

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We would be drowning!  We are not quite on the flood plain but our road turns off from Marsh Lane - there is a clue there 😂

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