Take your UK planning permission and shove it up your arse

Posted on October 25, 2012 by yankeebean

Back up, expats – I’ve got mah BITCH on.

I just finished watching Grand Designs (The one about the couple that built a super modern boat-house type thing right on the Thames).  The finished product was a real stunner – modern, but sensitive to its surroundings.  It was beige-y, river-y and awesome-y.  In short, I lurved it.

What is planning permission?  Wikipedia says that “Planning permission or planning consent is the permission required in the United Kingdom in order to be allowed to build on land, or change the use of land or buildings.

The people in this episode didn’t actually have any trouble with getting planning permission – but their heinous neighbours couldn’t seem to believe that such a MONSTROSITY could POSSIBLY be built among their chocolate-box houses.  There were petitions and council-led meetings and the build was fought at every turn by their neighbours (who now hate the completed house AND the new residents, too, just for extra arse-points).  They used words like ‘monstrosity’, ‘blight’, ‘disaster’, ‘ruination’, ‘It’s DESTROYED the space/street/block/area/county/country/planet/universe’.

You get the idea.

Even though the council backed the new build in the end, watching this episode reminded me how OUTRAGEOUS I find the idea of planning permission in the UK.

Rationally, I get it (SORT of):

  • England wouldn’t look like England without planning permission – it keeps it all lookin’ England-style
  • It helps to protect valuable conservation (countryside and farm land)
  • It helps to protect residential areas from fusty industrial development

But deep down, the American Revolutionary in me can’t believe that I could buy some land, 100% own that land, but some Suit with an official stamp and an architectural attitude could proceed to tell me what I am and am not allowed to do with it.

I’m going to have my own mini Boston Tea Party in protest!  I’m going to go get all the tea bags I have in my kitchen and THROW THEM IN A PUDDLE.  (Please note: No tea bags were harmed in the writing of this blog post and I don’t advocate littering so please do clean up after yourselves if you have your own mini Boston Tea Parties).

As far as I’m aware there are building CODES in America, but there’s no Big Brother telling you that your window frames have MUST be white and your extension HAS to made of Bath stone.

Can we weigh in on this one, peeps?  Am I the only one that breaks out in hives every time someone mentions planning permission?

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What Others Are Saying

  1. Tina October 28, 2012 at 12:31 am

    These kinds of rules are present in the States as well but fortunately, if you don’t care about location, you can find a place without the rules. I live in NYC and appreciate all the required approvals. The rules help new structures preserve the history of the neighborhood. Plus, they encourage architects and developers to be more creative in being both modern and historical at the same time.

  2. Gareth October 27, 2012 at 8:32 am

    There was outrage when Zero House (link below) was built in our little corner of York – a modern house on a 1930s development, just a few yards from a centuries old house…

    But that’s the thing about UK planning laws. They don’t impose an aesthetic hegemony. They are there to prevent development that harms the environment or the community – and that’s a good thing.

  3. Linda October 26, 2012 at 11:08 am

    In America it depends on where you live. There are some communities where the rules are very specific and some states that are very strict on zoning. These rules may give you a headache but they’re meant to preserve property values, health and safety. In addition there are height limitations to preserve views. These are great when you want to protest what your neighbor is planning, but frustrating when you want to do something different.

  4. brynzapoppin October 25, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    I mostly agree with you but… that house is pretty friggin’ ugly.

    • yankeebean October 25, 2012 at 6:32 pm

      Fair play, it’s all a matter of opinion. I like opinions.

      But ugly or beautiful, I just can’t stand the idea of a government telling me what my house is allowed to look like.

      Out of curiosity, what do you think of this one? It’s one of my all time faves.

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