Council error led to house

By Ted JeoryAN official complaint has been made after a council admitted making a mistake by allowing a cottage to be transformed into a “Cape Cod-style monstrosity”.

By Ted Jeory

AN official complaint has been made after a council admitted making a mistake by allowing a cottage to be transformed into a “Cape Cod-style monstrosity”.

Charles Clover, a Dedham parish councillor, said villagers were incandescent with rage over the error by council planning officials.

Appletree Cottage in Manningtree Road - one of the most picturesque approaches to Dedham - has just gone on the market for about £500,000.


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The three-bedroom house was bought by a developer for about £250,000 in November after being marketed with the warning that it needed modernising.

Among the work carried out, the developer spent thousands of pounds on recladding the external brick walls with traditional Essex weatherboarding.

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But many of the improvements were made without planning permission and a retrospective planning application was made to Colchester Borough Council earlier this year.

At a meeting to discuss the application, a council officer told councillors the weatherboarding in itself did not require permission and it was approved.

Now John Davies, the borough council's principal planning officer, told Dedham Parish Council that advice was an “error”.

But he added councillors had been fully aware that the weatherboarding had been part of a package of measures they had been asked to approve. They had also visited the site and seen the building before making their decision.

However, Mr Clover claimed councillors had been misled at the meeting and he has complained to the council.

“It was a grave blunder by the council's officials. The developer began to build without permission and now we have a Cape Cod monstrosity on a beautiful approach to Dedham,” he said.

“It sticks out like a sore thumb. Councillors rely on what they are told and in this case they were given the wrong advice. This New England-style cottage now has planning permission and it seems there is little we can do.”

Mr Clover added a complaint would also be lodged with the Local Government Ombudsman.

Nicola George, the borough council's head of planning and protection, said: “We have received a complaint, which I will be dealing with as the head of service in accordance with the council's complaints procedure.”

The cottage owners could not be contacted yesterday for comment.

ted.jeory@eadt.co.uk

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