Good enough for Aldeburgh - not Lavenham

WHY is a splash of colour encouraged in some of Suffolk's most historic towns, but in others even the humble whitewash is considered inappropriate?

Dave Gooderham

WHY is a splash of colour encouraged in some of Suffolk's most historic towns, but in others even the humble whitewash is considered inappropriate?

That is the question being asked after council chiefs told an Ipswich Town Football Club director to paint her £1million Lavenham home - currently an inoffensive white - a shade of Suffolk pink to match a house two doors away.

It's a stark contrast to the brightly coloured rows of homes along Aldeburgh seafront and the famed beach huts in Southwold, where matching colour schemes are not nearly such a big issue.

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Residents of the two towns admitted they were baffled by the demand made of city high-flyer Holly Bellingham by Babergh District Council and spoke proudly of their bold property colours standing side-by-side.

John Storey, former chairman of the Aldeburgh Society and town resident for more than 20 years, said: “I can remember when the first property was painted bright blue about ten years ago and there was some concern.

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“But gradually, as more and more properties did the same, we got used to it and now don't even notice it. I think the vibrant colours are very popular with visitors and I think we can get away with a little more being a seaside town. But I think if they were put somewhere else, I am sure many people would think they are dreadful.”

Dr Slim Dinsdale, chairman of the Southwold Beach Hut Owners Association, said: “Our beach huts are renowned for vibrant and varied colours. We have a lovely mix of yellows, golds, pinks and whites. It just brings out the character.”

Mrs Bellingham, a director of Ipswich Town and chairman of a major liability and insurance firm, was told she must repaint part of her white Grade I listed home to match the colour of a neighbouring property.

But as it only affects the side of her house on Water Street, the Lady Street front will remain unchanged - prompting her to claim that Babergh is attempting to turn Lavenham into a “weird and wonderful version of Disneyworld”.

She said: “It's another example of the nanny state as far as I'm concerned. We think painting our home a silly colour just to keep some bureaucrats happy is a small price to pay.”

Richard Ward, chairman of the Suffolk Preservation Society, played down the furore surrounding the white cottage but admitted the colour was historic.

He said: “Colour is so important to our environment but using it right is critical. When you go back to the 15th and 16th century diaries, a lot of people travelling through Suffolk refer to its white buildings. So colour is a relatively recent undertaking and owners must understand what they can use correctly.

“I think this generally highlights the need for listed building owners to speak to a council's conservation officer before they carry out any work to make sure what they are doing is right and the colours and materials are right.”

A spokesman for Babergh said they wanted to ensure numbers 7 to 9 Water Street had the same pale pink exterior colourwash as it was originally one complete building.

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