Agenda item


The Chairman introduced the final application, number 142948, for rear conservatory and raised terrace, including boundary treatments, at 5 Colins Walk Scotter. There was no Officer update and so the Chairman invited the first of the registered speakers to address the Committee.


Mr Paul Watkins, on behalf of the applicant, made the following statement.


Clearly I'm speaking on behalf of Mrs Jean Barwick. She is 80 years of age, and felt somewhat intimidated about coming and addressing the meeting herself. So what I’d like to do is just go through for her. It's my understanding that the main areas of concern here relate to the way the conservatory has been built, namely the way it has been raised up. This has led to a complaint that Mrs Barwick can see into the bedroom of the complainant’s bungalow. When Mrs Barwick bought the property it only had one entrance door. This was a concern, clearly, in the event of the fire. The building of the conservatory allowed a rear door to also be constructed. But due to the nature of the rear gardens of property the conservatory had to be built up, obviously so you ended up with a level floor inside the property itself. Where the step from the conservatory comes down onto the garden is near the adjoining property currently. I understand that additional plans have been or are being made to rectify that.


The statement the view would be spoiled by the installation of the screen doesn't really hold up that much as far as we can see, because the complainants yard itself is actually very cluttered, and they were talking about wanting to see the brook at the bottom. If they actually did some husbandry inside their own property that would solve the problem that wouldn't need to be looking across towards Mrs Barwick's.


The thing about looking into the bedroom window is a bit difficult. I've had a look before coming here this evening and it's a flat window facing out, both of them. She would have to stand on the steps and look back to actually look into the window and there is one occasion where she said she was speaking to the complainant and what she said was that she had the window open and she was talking to her. I'm sorry but if you’re stood talking to somebody through an open window you can generally see things inside. But generally speaking according to Mrs Barwick and from what I've seen itself this evening they’ve got blinds on that window which clearly are closed most of the time apparently.


With regards to the spoiled view by the erection of the screen I have to say that when you rent or buy a property, you do not buy or rent a view that is something that can change over time. The screen was an idea to solve the privacy issues that were raised by complainants. They do seem a bit hell bent on causing an old lady as much grief as possible with regard to this. Obviously I can't say too much more that would be hearsay and obviously that would not be the remit of this meeting itself.


We do have to say that it is true Mrs Barwick was given incorrect advice by the builder at the time of the construction about planning. This should have been checked before the construction started. However, you'll no doubt be aware that several properties, including the complainants, have conservatories that need planning permission but none of them seem to have it. The outcome of this meeting may or may not have an effect depending on the time that those conservatories were built.


In conclusion, I'd say that the steps from the conservatory being moved and the screen being installed would solve the privacy issues raised by the complainants. Their view being impaired is not within the remit of this meeting as such. Privacy goes both ways. Mrs Barwick is an elderly lady she spent a lot of time in a garden and so looking across at hers doesn't seem to be an issue but the fact that she could look back and maybe see through a window is a big privacy issue as far as the complainant’s concerned. But the real thing is if you go to the bottom of the yard and look back, you have more chance of looking through the window than you have from the steps of the conservatory base so it's  really, really difficult.


I hope that that clears things up. I just want to thank you on behalf of Mrs Barwick for allowing me to speak on her behalf to you.”


The second speaker, Mr Vincent Hartley, had submitted a statement of objection to be read aloud by the Democratic Services Officer. The following statement was read.


“Dear Committee


My written statement regarding the above planning application and subsequent amendments.


I am the owner of the adjoining semi detached bungalow. As a result of other commitments I am unfortunately unable to attend this meeting. I have viewed the second revised planning application and are still of the conviction that it does not in any way address my fundamental concerns about loss of privacy or of light.


The person standing or even sitting on the raised terrace still has uninterrupted views of my garden. When walking up from the bottom of the garden you are instantly confronted with this overbearing structure and of course anyone standing or sitting on it. I emphatically disagree with the comments stated in the agenda that the screen provides adequate privacy.


The area of land adjacent to the terrace is an area where vegetables are grown. The loss of light in this area will of course be detrimental to the growing of such.


In addition, as is clearly shown on the latest drawing, the enlarged screen now falls within the 45 degree view from the centre of the main bedroom window at No 4.


The only solution that is acceptable to me and the occupiers is that the height of the terrace should be reduced to ground level as it approaches to within 1.5m of the actual party wall line. The construction at present partly stands on my land which I have had confirmed by a competent boundary surveyor although this has been clearly dismissed in the agenda.


I truly believe if you vote in favour of this planning application in its entirety then one person's privacy is more paramount than another. As when my neighbour is in her garden she has a greater degree of privacy compared to the occupiers of my property who have basically none when observed from this raised terrace.


Yours faithfully

Vincent Hartley”


The third and final speaker, also speaking in objection to the application, was invited to address the Committee. Mr Richard Rayner made the following statement.


“I can hardly believe the comments that the previous person made. Yes, I am the tenant, but I'm also a great friend of the owner and I have a guarantee of being able to stay in this property as long as I like.


To get around to this, Mrs Barwick initially came around to us and she said she would very much like to copy what we had. Now, the semi-detached bungalow, one would expect if you're going to copy something, then this would be, as they are semi-detached, a mirror image. Well, what has been built is the exact same thing. Only we have a stepped patio. We come out onto a metre, we start to drop down by a foot and we're away. We have no overlooking of our neighbour, I’m looking to the rear now, to that side. We don't see into Mrs Barwick’s garden from that terrace if you like, but we only have height of a square metre of it and we have pot plants, it's not an area that we stay on.


Mrs Barwick’s set up is to the far left of her property is a conservatory and then full flat level platform right up to the boundary. When Mrs Barwick stands, or somebody, at the end of that, then yes, they can look into our bedroom window. And this nonsense of if the window is open, our windows don't open that way. They open in a different way, they don’t open so you see in they open so we see out.


Anyway, from the garden it's still quite an intimidating situation. Because, and we've joked, Jean and I, Jean and my wife that we trade plants, how I have helped Jean, she's been older than me, but I do some drilling for her and we've been great friends, until this. It's quite intimidating when a lot of people stand on this balcony platform, whatever you want to call it. And I've looked at the revised drawing but if you've removed those steps which has come down into the garden to be replaced by some steps to come down by the conservatory, then as far as I can tell, are going to be infilled. So we've got more platform. So you can even stand at the end of this platform and look further deeper into the garden.


What I suggest what I hope for what you can do for me is to remove those steps, as is planned, and the top part of the platform, therefore leaving about a metre between boundary, and her platform, and perhaps there's no need for the screen.”


The Chairman thanked all speakers and invited further comment from the Officer. He explained that, in relation to some of the points made by all parties, a response from the Chartered Surveyor had reviewed the title plans for numbers 4 and 5 Colins Walk. He stated that: “…these show the boundary between 4 and 5 Colins Walk as being a straight line. Obviously, this line is approximate within the bounds of accuracy inherent in Land Registry Title Plans. Within those parameters, the plans do appear to show that the boundary runs along the centre line between the houses and along the party wall. There is no marking of a deviation such that the fence at the rear of the property is offset from the party wall. Nevertheless, offsetting of 0.2 to 0.3m would not necessarily be shown on Ordnance Survey plans.”


In addition, the Officer highlighted that the agent for the applicant had stated ‘the adjoining owner was incorrect in the statement stating it is built on his land, there had been no claim submitted to the client stating this. The client had demonstrated adverse possession of the land with their solicitor and it had been in the ownership of 5 Collins Walk since the building was constructed. The redline also matched the current OS map data and nothing had been amended to make it fit.’ In relation to these points, the Officer highlighted that the planning system entitled anyone to apply for permission to develop any plot of land, irrespective of ownership. However, an applicant was required to notify owners of the land or buildings to which the application related. It was an offence to complete a false or misleading certificate, either knowingly or recklessly, with a maximum fine of up to £5,000. He also highlighted that the purpose of the meeting was not to determine land ownership, but to consider the amended proposal as seeking permission.


The Chairman thanked him for his comments and opened discussions to the Committee. Members appreciated the concerns of both the applicant and the objectors. A Member of the Committee proposed a site visit, in order to fully understand the implications of the proposed screen as well as the level of ‘overlooking’ from the terrace. The was duly seconded and, having been voted upon, it was


RESOLVED that a site visit be undertaken, at a time and date to be determined.


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