Lambeth Rant


RANT ALERT!  Our house renovation project has been put on hold for a month now and it’s looking like the delays will continue. That is a month of the builders not being there, which means a month longer (and counting) that this project is going to take and that we are going to be stuck in limbo, not knowing when we will be able to move in.

And why? Because Lambeth Planning Department is not only jaw-clenchingly incompetent but hair-wrenchingly inefficient. I have just had an excruciating 60 day wait on some written planning advice that should have been delivered to us back in March!! And the advice that Lambeth finally got round to bothering to write, informed me that because the front door is on the side of the house they have decided that this side is the principal elevation of the building. This, despite the fact that the architectural terrace it is part of, the layout of the drains, the original address it was assigned when it was built in 1897 as well as that small thing called COMMON SENSE would suggest that the front of the building is in fact the FRONT and not the SIDE. But because Lambeth have now decided that the side is the front, that means the front and back are now the sides and Lord only knows where the back now is!

But this decision has major implications for pretty much all the major building works we were planning on doing including, depressingly, the new hoped-for glass studio. The planning regulations for a principal elevation are quite different from those that concern other elevations on a house. And yet Lambeth want to have their cake and eat it too… I said to them if the front is now the side, then I should be allowed to make changes to that elevation – but, no, because it faces the street, I am similarly constrained on that side.

In an act of petty retribution for my endless delays, I put in a formal complaint about the planning officer who was dealing with my case, and demanded my money back. Typically – as if to rub salt in the wound – Lambeth complaints department builds in a delay to their response time so, frustratingly, I had to wait another month to find out that they had at least agreed with me that it wasn’t a good enough service and sent my money back. This has been little comfort when facing the seemingly insurmountable problem of how to proceed with my plans with this major spanner in the works.

I am now wishing that I had read the planning laws cover to cover before buying a house with a front door on the side….

Read the previous post about the renovation
Read the next post about the renovation

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