Why sometimes we really do love the planning system…Part 2

We’ve been involved in a fantastic project at Kirklands of Cluny for a number of years now and this past month has been a crucial one as it saw the successful granting of approval for the last component of the scheme, which we had been engaged in a battle over with the local planning office for some time, concerning the slight relocation of a listed wall in the garden.

The scheme involves major alterations and a big extension to a Grade C listed manse in Cluny. The alterations and large extension that increased the ground floor footprint by almost 100%, but we could not get agreement from the planning case officer to allow us move a large length of free standing granite wall that bisected the garden and would have split the view from the highly symmetrical extension design in a very unattractive asymmetrical manner. The wall is in a poor state of repair and has taken a battering by the weather over the years, which together with the close placement of a large tree adjacent to a section of the wall means it is listing (no pun intended) all over the place and has burst where the tree roots are putting excessive pressure on it.

Our proposal was to move the wall about 15 feet from its original position and rebuild it with the original stone it to allow for the extension to the rear of the house to have a clear view of the garden and to incorporate it in the overall garden design, so it become a useful feature of the garden, rather than it blocking the really lovely views. Eventually, because of its condition, it would have required extensive repair work to be undertaken so it felt like an ideal opportunity to move it.

As this seemed to be a sticking point that the Historic consultant for the council and the case officer would not give up on, we removed it from our original application, so that the extension would be approved and then made a separate application solely about the relocation of the wall.

As the new application to relocate the wall was recommended for refusal (with the case officer still adamant it had to stay, albeit he was prepared to let us take down a small section of it for good), it had to be read at Committee, meaning its merits could be discussed. It was a nail biting process that involved listening to three hours of applications discussing the merits of wind turbines the first time it was up for review, whilst waiting for our application to be heard, only to have ours deferred for a site visit within the first minute of discussion. This meant a further delay of three weeks, but the site visit was very useful, allowing the Councillors to view the relocation, which we had marked out with pegs and tapes. The second meeting was a close call affair, a mind boggling discussion ensued on the merits of altering a listed wall, which even planning had suggested to us they were minded to allow us to partly remove, in which one Councillor tried to make out it was like we were demolishing a valuable listed building! It was even suggested by another councillor that you should never alter any buildings, but just except them as they are – after all he would never want to alter his house! It is this subjectivity that is the nightmare scenario for all of our profession.

Thankfully there were a sufficient numbers of Councillors who felt the relocation of the wall was eminently logical and a perfectly reasonable part of the overall scheme so they argued in our favour, for which we are most eternally grateful. It went to a vote and was narrowly passed 7 votes to 6, which was a great relief to Alexa and me as we struggled to contain our squeaks of delight in the public gallery!! JAMstudio 1, Subjectivity 0…