Published: 06:00, 18 April 2021
The owners of a beach-themed house which “makes people smile” will fight a council ruling ordering them to remove its colourful cladding.
Despite a swell of support from the community, Doug and Sue Brown, from Ramsgate, were refused permission by district councillors when they applied retrospectively to have the seaside decoration on their extension.
They must now take down the blue, grey and white striped cladding on their London Road home, unless they can get the decision overturned on appeal.
Mr Brown, who was previously head of development at Thanet District Council and is trained in planning, told councillors their house livens up the street and celebrates the seaside town.
“The West Cliff is a stone’s throw away and I want to promote the town that I love,” he said.
“There should be colour and vibrancy - we should embrace that and make it brighter to encourage visitors.
“Let’s celebrate our seaside town, rather than sticking to the usual suburbia that comprises so many of our modern residential estates.”
Supporters of the couple, including former Ramsgate mayor Jacqueline Williams, say the “wonderful” house “cheers up the road without being brash”.
Some 22 letters of support were sent to TDC - as well as hundreds of positive comments posted on Facebook - with just one letter of objection received.
But planning officers recommended the application be refused on the grounds it is contrary to policy and a “visually intrusive, incongruous and discordant form of development”.
A vote was taken by the planning committee which resulted in a tie, with four backing the Browns’ seaside cladding and four against. Five councillors abstained.
A full re-vote was then taken, with the Browns losing out by six votes to five, meaning the cladding must go.
Mr Brown says it has all happened because of one person complaining to the council.
He tells how he secured permission for the extension - with a white render finish - last summer, but after deciding the render would weather badly opted for cladding.
“My first thought was white and then I looked at the colours and thought, sod it, I’ll take a risk,” he said. “I thought it looked fun and so that’s what I did.
“In that respect what I built is not in accordance with the approved plans.
“I suppose my expectation was that if nobody objected to it then it probably wouldn’t be an issue.”
When he got a letter from the council about the complaint, he applied for retrospective planning permission, winning the support of his neighbours and the community.
“Everybody says it makes them smile,” he said.
“One of the planning applications discussed before ours was a big art installation up on the East Cliff and I thought it was brilliant.
“The way I look at ours is it’s like my own little art installation.”
Mr Brown says he and his wife will appeal the decision, to show the depth of feeling from people.
“This is quite unusual to get that level of support,” he said.
“It’s made me feel warm about it. Lots of people are stopping us to talk about it.”
Mr Brown admits, however, that if they lose they will have to take the cladding down to avoid enforcement action.
A kayak on the side of the building did not form part of the application and is allowed to remain.