So, today, we’ve reached a new nadir in the life of a practice already used to the ups and downs of dealing with provincial planning officers. We are rumoured, after all, to have told one case officer who, on insisting that an eclectic suburban street could only take a ‘traditional’ building that this was an astonishing case of cultural conservatism, and, well, as this was 2014, he needed to get out a bit more. We duly got that consent, and we’d been lulled in to the false sense of security that case officers liked a bit of straight talking.
But, now, we’ve also been saved a bit of work. We have an application running for a new house in rural UK, in a nondescript street, in an ordinary village, and the application has gone beyond the date for determination as the scheme is proving too challenging for the local authority. They have refused to determine the application. The scheme is a pretty modest, low cost, extremely simple, black timber clad long house.
This morning, we’ve learnt that the case officer has taken the matter in to his own hands by, unprompted by us, taking our scheme, and drawing his preferred scheme over the top – complete with suburban developer spec bell render pebbledash gable ends, lean to porch, and re arranged render. He’s also taken the liberty of leaving our title block on, and resubmitted the drawing to himself, and is planning to favourably determine the application. This is, let’s remember, without any contact with us. We’re yet to track him down, and we’ve left a message for him to call. We’re looking forward to catching up with him.
We’re also wondering whether, in the age when everyone is an expert on design, all councils can offer a one stop shop and do the application drawings AND the determination, and architects can simply disappear further to the margins…