Thursday 24 November 2011

I'm still here!

alive, but barely kicking .. .. the hassles with the council planners over the past week have been stressful, so here is my moaning Minnie moment:

At the eleventh hour the case worker in charge of our application rang to say it was going to be refused because it could possibly at a later date be turned into a separate annex and they didn't like that idea! The fact that it would have required additional planning to do so didn't seem to sway .. .. who makes up the rules?! There was also the residency issue raised, but as Mum has a moratorium to live here permanently that had to be dropped, despite the hearsay that a certain planning officer said that I should put my mother in a home and the dwelling should only be used for holidays. I know that there are a lot of people living here permanently even though the 'rules' of sale over 20 years ago stated it was for holiday use; but for 52 weeks of the year so when are you not on holiday if you are retired anyway. It is a complicated legal issue that we don't want to get embroiled in - we just want a couple of bedrooms so the family can stay, visiting, on holiday, whenever! We established that my mother is within her rights to invite whoever she likes to stay with her, whenever she wants them too, for as long as she likes; so I can stay with her as long as she is living here. As my hubby is having to run the business back in the Saltash area we are renting a place back there, so legally that is my home anyway. What the future will bring, who knows: the last year has shown me that life can change radically in a short time and turn all your plans upside down.

Then there was the red herring issue of the drains .. .. that quickly went away thanks to my architect quoting the latest facts. He also rushed through an amended plan, which actually we prefer as it will save the hassle of trying to get the electric meters moved and taking out a window as well as a garage door. I'll loose the utility area at the back of the bungalow but can create an area within the front of the garage that will suffice. The bathroom will then go at the back of the garage where the utility currently is, so the drains are already in place as well as water and electrics: easier to convert, less money to spend on the building (more for the fancy stuff, yeh!) and verbally acceptable to the planners - shame they didn't want to consider it.

I felt I was running around like a headless chicken between the architect, the local councillor and our liaison at the planning office. Mum meanwhile has had a couple of 'turns' with the stress of it all, thankfully nothing serious more like panic attacks - and I've had a few of those myself too. Then to cap it all, yesterday the application is still refused on grounds that nobody mentioned, with the original plan (the amended seemingly was too different to be considered an amendment) and no mention of annexes, residency or drains! My architect feels we have been victamised because of of other issues going on in the area, and that we should appeal. However, the council know that Mum is frail, elderly and that these things take time and money - things she doesn't have in abundance.

We have been given a 'free go' with our amended plan, which verbally the liaison officer said would be looked on favourably, but I just don't know whether to trust/believe her. It is interesting to see that other applications have been approved in the past and the architect said that he had never come across the reason for our rejection (to do with development in the countryside and not being in a settlement - we are in the middle of an expanding estate of bungalows complete with shop, restaurant and pub open to the general public), he is waiting to see what happens to other applications in this area he has waiting approval. With the new application we have to include the words " extension to holiday bungalow" not just "extension to a dwelling" as seemingly you can have a holiday home in the countryside but not a permanent dwelling. The fact that there are permanent dwellings on the estate is immaterial it seems - they are 'past history' as far as the planners are concerned and not in line with current planning schemes for the area. There is still building going on here, holiday bungalows with a 52 week occupancy sales pitch, but I am told they were approved by a previous planning regime and that no 'new builds' will be allowed. We are not planning a 'new build' just a couple of bedrooms tacked onto the end of the bungalow - why can't people see sense and talk honestly and in plain English?

So, we are getting on with things that don't need planning permission, the kitchen units are in and I've baked 3 cakes and managed to cook several dinners, including a roast turkey for the family on Sunday! We still have to tile the walls, repair the ceiling architrave, get the electrics moved, plaster and paint, and figure out what to do with the floor. It would have been a better idea to get some of these things done first but with Mum being in hospital we ran out of time and didn't want to miss our slot with the kitchen fitter. The new electric boiler is sat in the conservatory waiting to be fitted in the next week or two and we have ordered the stuff for the existing small bathroom as that will need to be done in conjunction with the new boiler. But we can't move the doors about to create an en-suite for Mum until after the extension is done - delays that affect her more than any of us. We can get a new garage door, fix the floor and put in a ceiling, line the walls, and fit out the utility area in the garage with the old kitchen cabinets that are piled up in the conservatory. Then we can clear out the old utility area and get that floored, ceiling installed and walls boarded, the sink put where it needs to be in a bathroom and even a shower put in, we just need planning permission to close it off into a separate bathroom with a loo and bath as well.

So, I am busy and trying to stay positive, despite the feeling of being used and abused by the council planners. We will see what happens with the next application and if necessary go to appeal with that one. I have the local paper interested in running the story if I can find out a few more details, and will be contacting the MP and anyone else I think might be able to help. For now, if you've read this far, thank you for listening - and here's a wonky snap of the new kitchen so far .. ..

Take care everyone


  1. oh gosh you sound to have had a right time of it!!
    LOve the kitchen
    Lisa x

  2. So sorry to hear all this Annie - I was wondering how it all was for you but didn't want you to have to answer me (if you know what I mean). All this makes our renovations pale into minor detail. Do take care of yourself midst all this - I've got you much on my mind for - as you say - you never know what is around the corner.
    Much love
    Paula (PEP)
    Kitchen looks great!

  3. wow, that sounds like a constant uphill battle, sorry to hear you are having so much trouble from the council. It is quite unbelievable that they put so many obstacles in the way of people trying to improve a home (holiday or permanent). Hope things improve in that department soon!
    The kitchen looks fabulous so far!
    have a great day, Debxx

  4. Hi Annie,
    So sorry you have had the run around with the Council. I can only hope that what goes around comes around to people like this. Keep thinking positive hun. Kitchen is looking fab.

  5. OMG talk about stress and problems red tape gone mad by the sounds of it
    hugs xx


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