Neighbour dispute over conservatory ‘like 1960s bus shelter’ blocking view of river

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The barn’s owners constructed the new summer house without first getting planning permission

A neighbour dispute over a conservatory which “looks like a 1960s bus shelter” could lead to the owner being forced to replace the roof.

The conservatory overlooking the River Severn was recently built using black PVC roof panels, causing anger among people living next door.

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Wharf Barn lies on Passage Road in Aust, near the Severn Bridge north of Bristol. The barn’s owners constructed the new summer house without first getting planning permission, and so were made to apply for retrospective approval from South Gloucestershire Council.

Planning officers at the council recommended they were refused permission — meaning the conservatory would have to be demolished — due to the black materials not matching the stonework common in buildings in the surrounding area, and a lack of a flood risk assessment.

Speaking to the development management committee on Thursday, February 15, Sheila Newby, the applicant, said: “It’s retrospective because we honestly didn’t know the planning restrictions existed between Wharf Barn and Wharf Lodge. Since the flood defence scheme was installed outside our property, the Environment Agency still hasn’t updated the maps to reflect that.

“High quality PVC frameworks and cladding are an absolute necessity for anything built which experiences excessive weather conditions from the river and Aust cliffs. Otherwise unrealistic maintenance regimes are required. These materials can be found in many other extensions visible from Passage Road. The colour blends well with the stone of the barn.”

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Major flood defence works, costing £80 million, were recently built stretching from Aust to Avonmouth, protecting properties along the coast such as Wharf Barn. But despite the new defences, national rules mean property owners still have to arrange an expensive flood risk assessment, to show developments such as barn conversions aren’t at serious risk of flooding.

Councillor Matthew Riddle, representing Severn Vale, said: “I believe this was a genuine mistake. The applicant thought it would be covered by permitted development rights. The views from the public realm of the summer house are minimal, you cannot see it if you’re walking along the pavement on Passage Road.

“The need for a flood risk assessment is very, very small indeed. 50 per cent of the site is just inside a very low flood risk zone, and the other 50 per cent is outside any flood risk. The site benefits from the new Aust to Avonmouth sea defences which have recently been built at a cost of £80 million.

“The Aust end of the scheme has now been finished. The sea wall has been built higher in front of Wharf Barn and a flood gate was installed on Passage Road, to protect Wharf Barn and the dwelling next door.”

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Councillors on the development management committee voted to defer a decision, while planning officers negotiate a new roof design with the owners and a flood risk assessment is carried out. But residents living next door to the conversion claimed the conservatory was “horrific” and left their bathroom in darkness blocking daylight.

Writing to the council, neighbours living in the adjacent farmhouse said: “It has a major impact on our property which has been constructed so near to our boundary that the back of the building can be touched from our boundary wall. From our bedroom window we now see the back of a very unsightly building constructed of big black panels.

“Not exactly the view you would expect from your bedroom window, and it now clearly blocks our view of the river. From our bathroom window, yes we have obscured glass, but because of the height and close proximity to our boundary and the black of the back, our bathroom is in darkness, and we now have no natural daylight, and have to put the light on in the day.

“The construction looks like a bus shelter from the 1960s, not in keeping at all with the property. There was talk of a nice structure being erected in their garden, not something as horrific as this.”

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