A judge has ruled that Kensington & Chelsea planners were correct to insist that Kensington’s increasingly famous “stripey house” must be repainted in a plain colour.
The decision of his honour judge Johnson, sitting in Isleworth Crown Court for a two day hearing, was that the borough had every right to use a section 215 notice to force owner Zipporah Lisle-Mainwaring to repaint the home to its original colour.
Lisle-Mainwaring had appealed, hoping to overturn the demand. She will now have 28 days to comply – but has more recently been threatening to simply demolish the property.
The owner appeared to deploy her candy stripe colour scheme in order to frustrate neighbours and planners, after losing previous battles over a major basement scheme at the site.
At the beginnning of 2015, in response to increasing problems over major basement expansion projects across the borough, Kensington & Chelsea issued a new policy document, restricting the potential to extend homes by building down. The document made it clear that only single storey basements were acceptable, and was the first such document from a local authority to clearly limit basement construction.
Lisle-Mainwaring challenged the policy in the high court, with a judge upholding the council’s stance in July 2015. “We’re obviously pleased and relieved that the Judge has rejected this appeal,” said councillor Timothy Coleridge, the cabinet member for planning policy, after the court decision. “Our policy brings some much-needed sanity to the mega-basement mania and finds the proper balance between subterranean development and the right of the rest of the community to the peaceful enjoyment of their homes.
“It’s a policy that has already been the subject of two years’ of consultation, debate and legal argument. And it is also a policy that is very popular and being copied by others. It deserves to stand.”
Lisle-Mainwaring bought the property in late 2011, paying £4.75 million for the old office building. She then prepared plans for a four bedroom home with a two storey deep basement that would include a gym, cinema and space for a 20 metre swimming pool. However, neighbours objected, while the new basement policy led to the scheme being rejected.
Ahead of the court decision, Lisle-Mainwaring ordered the red striped paint job, telling the local newspaper: “I haven’t had much pleasure out of my investment in the house. It’s a very ugly frontage at the moment, and I thought it would both cheer the house up and cheer me up if I had it painted, so i did. It’s not perfect but it has charm. My neighbour didn’t like the red and white stripes and I suppose that made them more attractive to me.”
The new paint job was then addressed by the council, with a separate action that has now effectively been upheld. Lisle-Mainwaring has subsequently threatened to demolish the building, rather than repaint it.
LPA Perspective: The neighbour from hell fights on. Frustration is one thing, being spiteful is quite another. Those purchasing buildings in central London for redevelopment need to clearly understand that there is planning risk, and there are often neighbours who will oppose any substantial change.
One gripe from Lisle-Mainwaring is that she cannot have a large basement, when her neighbour was able to build one. That’s planning, and timing – planning rules do change, and if you are not up to speed with policy changes, that’s tough.
It would appear that the best outcome now, is for the owner to sell up. Having completely lost the trust of her neighbours, and the borough, she’s hardly in a good position to see a new development proposal for this site sail through to approval.