Council Insists Pensioner's House Must Be Yellow

An ongoing dispute between a pensioner and her local authority has demonstrated the importance of considering the impact of planning laws when carrying out work on listed buildings.

Sheila New, 72, painted the front of her house a light blue colour in 2008. The house is a Grade II-listed building and had formerly been a shade of yellow, as are all similar buildings in the area. South Somerset District Council objected to the work and ordered her to re-paint the house to restore its original character.

Ms New, who had not known that planning consent would be needed, applied for retrospective planning permission but this was refused, the planning inspector ruling that the change of colour had caused 'considerable detriment' to the property. A two-year battle followed, during which Ms New made two appeals against the planning inspector's decision. The Council also met with Ms New to discuss a range of colours which would be suitable, none of which she liked.

The Council issued an enforcement notice and eventually prosecuted Ms New for failing to comply with it. Ms New admitted failing to comply with the notice and has now agreed to re-paint the house. She received a 12-month conditional discharge and was ordered to pay £50 costs.

A spokesman for the Council said, “We are very disappointed that something like this ended up in a court […] Fortunately this is a very rare outcome because the overwhelming majority of owners of listed buildings understand that they have a responsibility to maintain its historic character.”

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