Yes it really has been a month since our last post and yes there really has been no update from the local authority planning department since then.
Until today! The planning officer is concerned about two of the objections which they have received from neighbours:
- Overshadowing issues for the neighbour to the right side of our property; and
- Overlooking issue towards the neighbour to the left of our property.
The good news is that apart from these neighbour raised concerns, the planning department itself and the local conservation society both have had no concerns of their own with our application. Well at least that is a big relief!
So on to the two issues raised by neighbours. It was clear that we would have to deal before we could hope to get our plans approved.
We were really impressed with our architects at Building Designs with how they proposed to deal with this issue.
They basically used technology (Google’s Maps and SketchUp programme, accurate geocoded coordinates and data from the Ordinance Survey and local Topographical Survey) to prepare a detailed report demonstrated how the sun and shadows affected our neighbour’s garden at various points throughout the day. This analysis was also provided for different times in the cycle of a whole year, thus taking effect of seasonal changes (i.e. summer sun being higher than winter sun). The report showed shadows both before and after our planned build and highlighted the variances between the two.
Even we were surprised by the results! We had considered our proposed build to be quite reasonable in its extent but secretly thought that perhaps it might be causing overshadowing issues given we were extending both back and up. The results were pleasing for all:
Spring – overshadowing of the side garden would increase by 1-2% in morning hours only
Summer – overshadowing of the side garden would increase by 1-5% in morning hours only
Autumn – overshadowing of the side garden would increase by 1-2% in morning hours only
Winter – no affect
This was brilliant news! Not only for us, as it showed that the actual effect of shadows was very minimal indeed. Basically, yes shadows were taller due to the build (that is simply physics) but they were not actually pointing towards our neighbour in any case for most of the time due to the direction of the sun across our two plots. It was of course also great news for our neighbour as they could relax in the knowledge that they would effectively not be losing any significant amount of daylight at all from our proposals.
Unfortunately there was no technical wizardry to help us prove one way or another in this respect. We did not agree with the comment as our original existing build had a window which very much overlooked our other neighbour’s garden. And all that we were doing was moving this window a metre closer towards their house (but still well away from the dividing wall).
In our opinion, the proposed view would not be changing in any material manner. What we could see (if we were inclined to, which of course we were not!), was not going to be significantly increased.
The two photos below show the difference. The Existing View is what we can see right now and the Proposed View is what the view would be from the new proposed bedroom window, a bit closer to the dividing fence.
We were disappointed by this position as we felt it was unfairly harsh given the existing situation but we really wanted just to move on, so we have resubmitted on the basis of having an opaque window. Peter has also advised us that it was actually pretty normal to be asked to deal with overlooking view issues when having a window to the side of the house.
So we accepted that this window would have to be opaque and fixed up to a height of 1.6m, but have requested that is should be allowed to clear and openable above that height.
The Planning Officer is coming out again to see us on 23 July 2016 to review our responses to the above issues. Could this be the final hurdle before a decision on our application? It has been almost five months now since we submitted … so more than three months longer than the longest timeframe promised to us by the Council.