Builder wins appeal against St Albans council

Half finished house to rear of 30 Hazel Road

Half finished house to rear of 30 Hazel Road - Credit: Archant

A MAN has blasted the council because he believes they wasted thousands of pounds challenging his Park Street development which was eventually approved on appeal.

St Albans district council was criticised for “unreasonable behaviour” and accused of causing Richard Jarman “unnecessary expense” by the planning inspectorate for prolonging his plans to construct a four-bedroom house.

The builder and property developer said: “I built the house and got it up to roof height and the council said I’d built it in the wrong place.”

Although awarded full costs for the appeal, he is now going to the Ombudsman with a complaint about loss of earnings as the 14-month saga apparently affected his “sole” source of trade and put him into “financial difficulty”.

When Richard bought the plot of land at the rear of 30 Hazel Road in 2009 he allegedly purchased it with the original planning permission.

He started building the house and applied for a loft conversion whilst working on it, which was subsequently refused despite the council reportedly telling him it “wouldn’t be a problem” before he applied.

Richard then reverted back to plans similar to the original planning application obtained in 2009, which he said featured the “same size ground floor”.

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But it was at this point in 2011 when the dimensions of the development apparently began to be questioned.

He claimed: “They [the council] were deeming that my drawings were inaccurate.”

The 54 year old believes the council were going off plans printed from PDF to full size which are reportedly often incorrect. In comparison Richard said he was working off computer-aided design (CAD) drawings.

To prove his plans were correct the self-employed builder and property developer had the site electronically surveyed.

He said: “They had to agree that the drawings were alright.”

His appeal win has left him feeling “10 feet tall” and “absolutely over the moon”. He said he was beginning to think he had put the building in the wrong place.

He joked: “It’s lucky me and the wife aren’t divorced from it.

“It’s been a real struggle, I’ve been so short of money.”

The builder, from Hastoe in the Chilterns, claimed: “The way they [the council] deal with planning is not very efficient at all.”

He said: “They make their decisions on poor judgements.

“It’s probably cost them £40,000 already to try and defend themselves. They have lost a lot of money they could have spent on other things.”

He added: “Everybody I speak to can’t believe the way the council responded like this.”

Richard has yet to finish the house, which he said was now damaged as building was halted before the roof was completed.

Cllr Chris Brazier, who chaired the planning committee which turned down the application, said: “I don’t think the officers had deliberately misled the committee.

“It’s gone to the inspectorate and he’s interpreted this [the development] in a different way.”

He felt the committee made the decision they felt was correct and that “it all comes down to opinion”.

Regarding the fact the building was thought to be in the wrong position, he said “the inspectorate said it was ‘generally’ in the position shown”.

He said: “It’s always disappointing to lose an appeal especially when costs are awarded against the council.

But he added: “I don’t think the council deliberately goes out to refuse planning applications maliciously.”