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?