Thursday, 3 March 2011

Spot What's Wrong

Me and Mrs Grumpologist wanted a tiny side extension at the back corner of the house,  invisible from the road and could be seen by only one neighbour, and then only from part of his garden so he had no objection at all.
It took 1 month for the architect to meet the planning people and discuss what would be allowed then submit the plans. Then it took 2 months for the local planning department to refuse it on a technicality. They always answer at 5pm on literally the last working day of the 2 month guideline response time they are allowed. It took a further month to get plans redrawn, then another 2 months to get them refused again, on a different issue. It then took 10 months to get an appeal turned down, with the bizarre comment that part of an original wall, part of the house, was not an original wall because it had been rebuilt, despite being in the same place and using the same bricks. My pointing to the wording of the legal statute and saying that the original house is as built or as stood in 1948, therefore anything that happened in between had no bearing on the meaning of ‘original’ simply elicited a smile and comment that planning law had specific interpretations and if I didn’t like them I could go to court! Tempting, I know they are wrong because statute, for all its muddle and unintended consequence doesn’t use made-up special interpretations, but life is too short. 

So I moved to plan ‘B’, do some small permitted development garden and garage improvements so we can at least enjoy those this year. 

I phoned the local builder on Tuesday, they had some flexibility as they were finishing a previous job earlier than expected, and could fit it in immediately if I wanted them to start on Thursday (today), or they could do it in a month’s time. Thursday please! True to their promise they arrived at the end of Wednesday with digger and dumper and starting at 8am today have completed the length of foundation trench for a brick garden wall and prepared a garage base. Ready mixed concrete ordered mid afternoon today is due midmorning tomorrow so bricks can be laid on Monday.

Meanwhile on Wednesday (yesterday) I went to the local independent builders’ merchant and ordered the specific bricks needed to match existing ones, plus sand and cement. That was all delivered lunchtime today and placed carefully by the delivery driver as close as possible to where needed.

Compare and contrast.

Planners are public sector workers, so wasting over a year of someone’s life waiting for an answer, which when given is nothing more than an infringement on people’s liberty and rights over their own private property, is normal.

Meanwhile the builder, concrete supplier and builder’s merchant are private companies, workers probably earning considerably less than our public servants, and all prepared and able to provide an excellent and fast service.

This doesn’t just help explain why houses are expensive. Multiply this by all the private businesses and workers in the country who are tied up with bureaucratic public sector regulators and it underlines one of the reasons why the country is in such an economic mess.


  1. Aren't the council stasi just wonderfully helpful?

    Local authorities seem to have caught the Westminster disease - they think we are there for their benefit!

  2. "we are there for their benefit! "

    Parts of ours certainly think so, but of course as long as we acquiesce to that role it won't change.