Ex-Bishop of Rochester Dr Nazir-Ali in row over neighbour's balcony
A couple have been ordered to take down a decked balcony
after a former Bishop of Rochester complained.
Jamie Beadle spent more than £5,000 putting up the 10ft-high
wooden decking at the home he shares with his wife Nicola and three
children in The Ridgeway, Chatham.
But it sparked the ire of next-door neighbour Dr Michael
Nazir-Ali (pictured below), who was the 106th Bishop of Rochester
until he stepped down in 2009.
The 63-year-old and his wife Valerie spent almost £1,500
extending their own fence so the decking wouldn’t overlook their
When the Beadles were told to apply for retrospective planning
permission, the Nazir-Alis lodged the only formal complaint.
In a letter to Medway Council, they said: “We have serious
concerns for the loss of privacy to our home and garden, with
potential attendant security concerns and we fear these may
additionally have implications for the value of our property.”
Now councillors have defied their own experts to agree – and
have ordered the Beadles to remove their decking.
Cllr Adrian Gulvin (Con) said: “I wouldn’t like it next to me.
It’s totally over the top.”
Cllr David Carr (Con) added: “My God, what’s it going to look
like when it’s got screening on?”
The Beadles, who both work for insurance firm Lloyds of London,
said they were “shocked” at the backlash and never wanted to break
Jamie, who spent months building the decking, said he had been
in contact with the council throughout the scheme.
He has lodged a complaint, and questioned whether there could
have been a conflict of interest on the committee.
The 44-year-old said: “When the planning officer came round I
said ‘is this going to be a problem?’ and they said it would
probably be more of a box-ticking exercise. That was six months ago
and it’s dragged on since then.
“I feel quite strongly that every citizen has an equal right to
fair treatment, and in this case I feel I have not been treated
Councillors unanimously denied planning permission for the
decking, which was recommended for approval by their own planning
would have had the final say, but the decision was taken out of
their hands after ward councillor Trevor Clarke escalated the issue
to the planning committee.
Cllr Clarke, a Churches Together in Medway columnist who has
publicly supported the bishop on other issues, referred the
application as part of standard planning rules.
None of the 15 committee members declared an interest at the
A council spokesman said they did not have to by law, but added:
“Members are advised they should also consider declaring an
interest and if necessary excluding themselves from considering and
voting on a planning application where they are either biased, have
a conflict of interest or have pre-determined the application.”
Speaking after the decision, Mr Beadle said the decking extended
a narrow concrete walkway on the first floor, which he said was
“We need safe access from the door at the rear of the house,” he
said. “I’m not trying to build a supermarket on a bit of green
field. I’m just replacing some dangerous landscaping and making it
Mr Beadle said he planned to appeal.
The Nazir-Alis declined to comment further when approached at
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