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Column 17th March 2021

Erroneous plan gets developer space for additional bedroom

At the District Council Planning Committee last week, there was a retrospective application to modify the ridge height of the block of 14 flats being built on the corner of Denchworth Road in Grove.

A retrospective application is required when a change has been made to a property that would have required planning permission and doesn’t have approval or is contrary to planning permission which has been granted.

In this case, the building was 60cm (2 feet) higher than the approved plans allowed.

The original application for this block of flats was discussed in 2017 and was only approved when the roof line had been reduced by 60cm.

Yet somehow, the architects provided the older (wrong) plans to the builders and the building ended up two feet higher.

Then they realised that the extra height allowed them to move one bedroom into the roof space and increase the size of the lounge in one of the top floor flats so just did so (and put in two dormer windows) without waiting for planning approval.

Anyway, the Agent for the developers (Mr Godfrey) spoke at the meeting last week and explained that working to the wrong plans was a “genuine error”.

Of course I’m sure it’s easier to get retrospective planning consent than to take the roof off again and build what did have approval.

Mr Godfrey also pointed out that there was no “Planning Gain” as a result of the error.

Yet if one of the flats now has a lounge almost twice the size and a bedroom in the roof, surely it must be worth more so there must be a planning gain.

Given that discussion of the original application was deferred by the planning committee to allow time for the plans to be amended with a lower roof before approval was given, it might be nice if the developers compensated Grove in some way for their “genuine error”.

After all, if I exceed the speed limit in a genuine error I still have to pay a fine and get points on my licence so why shouldn’t the developers have to pay compensation?

Even a couple of nice benches on the green facing the development would be nice - with the approval of the Council of course!

Developers always want to change agreed plans between gaining approval and finishing the developments but usually they wait for planning permission first.


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