Reprieve for 'horrific' conservatory 'like 1960s bus shelter' built without planning permission

GV of conservatory with black roof, upper black panels and white window frames between stone converted barns
-Credit: (Image: Google)


Homeowners have been allowed to keep a conservatory that “looks like a 1960s bus shelter” and was built without planning permission in the greenbelt – as long as they paint the black panels white. South Gloucestershire Council officers advised a planning committee to refuse retrospective consent, meaning the summer house would have to be demolished, after angry next-door neighbours complained it was “horrific” and had plunged their bathroom into darkness.

Planning officers said the application for the conservatory at Wharf Barn in Passage Road, Aust, near the Severn Bridge north of Bristol, should be rejected because the materials were “harmful to the character and visual amenity of the area”. They said the structure was prominent for passers-by and that the black roof “exaggerated” its height, adding that the proposal to paint the black PVC upper panels white would be an improvement but not enough to “overcome the fundamental design concerns” so should be rejected.

But the development management committee voted unanimously to grant permission on condition that the new paintwork is done. In February, members deferred a decision while planning officers negotiated a new design with the owners, who were also told to carry out a flood risk assessment as Environment Agency maps suggested it was in a high-risk area.

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When it came back for a decision, officers had accepted that it was actually in a low-risk zone and dropped their opposition on flooding grounds but maintained that the conservatory’s black panels were out of keeping with the stonework common in buildings in the area. Applicant Sheila Newby told the meeting: “Unfortunately the application is retrospective because planning permissions restricting modifications to both Wharf Barn and Wharf Lodge (next door) were sent to the previous owner of both dwellings who applied for them after he sold us Wharf Barn.

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“Nothing was discoverable by any searches at the time of our purchase. We would not have proceeded had we known.

“During the discussion at February’s committee we were asked to examine what options there were for any changes to the roof. It matches Wharf Lodge’s roof and is designed to appear as a continuation of that roof.

“Any change to the roof design would cause us to have to rebuild the entire summer house and the side garden. Everything would have to be demolished and the site cleared, a new steel frame would be required to accept the extreme weight of the flat roof, so basically we would have to build an entirely new summer house from scratch which is over £60,000 for clearance and reconstruction for a design that would constantly let in water and flood the side garden.

“That does not seem a balanced or reasonable outcome for us.” Ward Cllr Matthew Riddle (Conservative, Severn Vale) told the committee in a statement that he believed the homeowners had made a “genuine mistake” and had understood incorrectly that the conservatory could be built without the need for planning consent through permitted development rights.

Committee member Cllr Mike Drew (Lib Dem, Yate North) told officers: “You say it’s quite prominent from the highway but anyone walking by would have difficulty in actually seeing it. The building next door seems to have a fairly similar colour roof.”

Writing to the council, the neighbours in the adjacent farmhouse said: “It has a major impact on our property which has been constructed so near to our boundary that the back of the building can be touched from our boundary wall. From our bedroom window we now see the back of a very unsightly building constructed of big black panels.

“Not exactly the view you would expect from your bedroom window, and it now clearly blocks our view of the river. From our bathroom window, yes we have obscured glass, but because of the height and close proximity to our boundary and the black of the back, our bathroom is in darkness, and we now have no natural daylight, and have to put the light on in the day.

“The construction looks like a bus shelter from the 1960s, not in keeping at all with the property. There was talk of a nice structure being erected in their garden, not something as horrific as this.”