A couple who created ‘beach-themed’ blue and white cladding on their property extension are fighting a council decision to reject planning permission.
Doug and Sue Brown have blue, white and grey striped cladding on the property in London Road, Ramsgate, which they say is “based upon a common seaside theme, stripey deckchairs, windbreaks and beach huts and invites visitors towards those attractions.
“The colours are complementary pastel shades and are only seen from relatively close quarters, a surprise in the street scene. The design cheers people up and forms a bit of local art for people’s enjoyment.”
But when the case went to Thanet council’s planning committee last month retrospective planning permission was refused. This means the cladding colour scheme must be removed.
The approved extension was proposed to be white render with grey UPVC windows and doors but is now white, grey and blue stripes alongside a with a ‘beach hut’ style silhouette. One complaint was made to Thanet council against the altered design.
Councillors on the planning committee were torn by the application. Cllr Brenda Rogers – who was at the meeting to speak for the couple but was not entitled to vote – was in support of the design, pointing out the many positive comments that had been made while Cllr Jill Bayford said the design was ‘pretty’ but had to be judged on planning standards.
Planning officers said the cladding was: “visually intrusive, incongruous and discordant.”
A vote on the issue had to be taken twice. The first vote resulted in a tie of four backing the refusal and four against the officer’s advice while five members abstained.
A second vote resulted in six votes to refuse, four not supporting the recommendation and three abstentions.
Now former town planner Mr Brown and wife Sue have lodged an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate and made a separate complaint to the council over the meeting minutes which do not record the double vote.
In his appeal document Mr Brown says: “Design is a very subjective matter, anything out of the ordinary is sometimes frowned upon. In this case however there has only been one objection to the scheme and 22 letters of support as well as all the other online comments of support. I have also received a letter of support from the Westcliff Conservation and Community Association.
“I feel that good design is often only realised through public appreciation. If the reaction to this proposal had been universal condemnation, I would have removed it, however that has not been the case. The public have expressed their views and public opinion is strongly supportive of keeping the cladding and I feel that there is a strong case for keeping the cladding because people like it and it makes them smile.”
Mr Brown says the refusal was based on a very narrow interpretation of policy and also a “misunderstanding of location.” Mr Brown says: “It is stated that the property is prominent in the street scene. The appeal property is on the inside of a bend which means it is not visible from long distances. It is also screened by trees, hedges and boundary walls.”
The couple have lived at their home for 33 years and say they intend to spend the rest of their lives there.
Mr Brown has requested a public hearing for the appeal due to the level of interest that has been shown.