Controversial 'innovative' conservatory denied planning permission after neighbours object

Plans for a ‘massive’ conservatory which neighbours said ‘looked like a factory unit’ have been thrown out by council bosses – after building work had already started.

Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 1:26 pm
The conservatory under construction in Washington

Applicants for the proposals at a property in the Chase, in Rickleton, Washington, blamed an administrative mix-up on a ‘first draft’ being previously submitted and approved by Sunderland City Council (SCC), rather than final blueprints.

But the revised scheme was rejected by city leaders, who sided with objectors over concerns about the appearance and overall size of the extension.

“[The applicant] had a warning, but they have never stopped,” said Gary Wilson, a neighbour, who added the current build looked like a ‘factory unit’.

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“It is massive, it’s pretty impactful and I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it in our estate, but more importantly for the application it doesn’t integrate with the home.

“I’ve lived in my home for 36 years, I’ve never objected to anything to anything on the estate and we live in a quiet neighbourhood, but this has created an awful situation.”

Mr Wilson was speaking at a meeting of SCC’s Development Control Sub Committee for Hetton, Houghton and Washington.

A report for city councillors said building work had already started following a previous approval of plans, but concluded current work is ‘materially different from the approved application’.

Particular criticism was reserved for the project’s skylights, which were called ‘incongruous’ due to their ‘bulk, height and prominence’.

The applicant, did not appear before the panel, but instead sent a letter in which he apologised for any ‘distress’ he had caused to his neighbours.

He insisted he had not intended to ‘openly flout’ the council’s planning process and blamed the situation on an ‘architectural drawer’ who had previously submitted the wrong plans for consideration.

He added: “Innovation is always challenging and change difficult to cope with, but a housing estate is a living environment. Failure to modernise risks it degenerating into a rather dull retirement community and becoming unattractive to young families.”

The planning committee voted unanimously to reject the application.