Facade

A property developer in West London has won her battle to keep the candy stripe facade on her Kensington terrace house.

Zipporah Lisle-Mainwaring decided to add the facade to her South End home in 2015. The property itself is only used for storage, though Lisle-Mainwaring had previously tried to have it demolished to make room for a new house. She denied that the facade had been added as a way to spite neighbours that had objected to the demolition.

However, she was soon served a notice by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, demanding that she repaint “all external paintwork located on the front elevation white” within 28 days.

It stated that the changes were necessary “because it appears to the council that the amenity of a part of their area is adversely affected by the condition of the land”.

Lisle-Mainwaring made a number of appeals in response, but failed to get support for her case. The matter was finally settled after she launched judicial review action at London’s high court, leading a judge to dismiss the order on Monday.

Londoners are used to difficulties when it comes to potentially disruptive home improvements, with local authorities clamping down on everything from loft conversions to iceberg basements.

Facade

In this case, however, it all came down to appearances. Lisle-Mainwaring was served her notice under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. However, Mr Justice Gilbart said that the stripes were “entirely lawful”.

Addressing the crown court’s claim that Lisle-Mainwaring chose the facade “as a matter or pique”, he maintained that “She may well have done, but section 215 does not entitle one to address the motive of a landowner."

"In my judgement, to allow a Local Planning Authority (LPA) to use section 215 to deal with questions of aesthetics, as opposed to disrepair or dilapidation, falls outside the intention and spirit of the Planning Code.

An LPA has the power to limit permitted development rights or to discontinue lawful uses, but not without payment of compensation.”

He warned that “upholding this notice will be to give an LPA power to cause buildings to be removed, altered or repainted because the LPA (and magistrates or crown court on appeal) dislikes the appearance thus created, on grounds that relate only to aesthetics”.

In other words, an LPA cannot force a property to be altered just because of an issue with how it looks.

“I am therefore of the view that it is an improper use of section 215 to use it to alter a lawful painting scheme, when there is no suggestion that there is any want of maintenance or repair in the land.”