A shed in the hedge

We have a splendid view from our back gate – all across fields to The Downs, down a field with sheep in it, and up another field to two lovely oak trees.

You can see some of this from the house – not least since Nick cut a semi-circle out of the back hedge so we can see the two landmark trees from the kitchen. (They are the trees you can see on the heading of this site – lovely aren’t they?)

Well, we decided – after a few episodes of George Clark’s Amazing Spaces – to try and build a shed on a platform in the hedge, backing against the large cherry tree.

We wanted space for a desk – something like Dylan Thomas’s writing shed in Laugharne, and you can see that we have been working on this idea for some time – and a fold out bed so we can put up a couple more people now and then.

And to sit there and enjoy the lovely view of an evening.

We, for our (relatively rich) sins, live in a conservation area in a national park, and the village is nothing if not clear about what it approves of and what it doesn’t when it comes to any development.

(I could tell you a long story about the house being built behind the green boards for about two years but it would get very tedious.)

Anyway, it being a small world, we knew someone who could ask informally of the council whether we needed planning permission.

I had previously looked at the planning portal for Chichester and it is a site designed by planning experts for planning experts and not for ‘civillians.’

(And if you search for Chichester planning portal and you see the reassuringly named site: Simple Search Chichester District Council, and if you click on that and see Planning – Simple Search and then see Guidance – you might think you were in with a chance. But click on that and you will get the message, Page Not Found. Now you know you are in trouble.)

We just wanted someone to say if it is such and such size, above such and such height, within such and such distance of the house, yes you need planning permission.

Or indeed, whatever you are thinking of building apart from a hedgehog abode under a hedge, you need planning permission.

This is an extract from the advice we have been given:

If the property benefits from permitted development rights the proposal is determined against Schedule 2 Part 1 Class E of The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 2015 (please see page 22 of the attachment). This shows the range of development permitted and the additional restrictions that apply to Article 2(3) land (conservation areas, areas of outstanding natural beauty, national parks, world heritage sites).

In other circumstances, I might be rather pleased that our little corner of deepest Sussex ranks along with a World Heritage Site, but this is not time to take such crumbs of comfort.

The form we have to fill in to find out if we need planning permission is nine pages long.

This is not a rant to claim the need to relax planning laws.

Neither is it a rant about the conservativism of planning around here – nothing if it’s not built to look like it was there when Jane Austen came trailing through.

Nor I am I about to get on to the issue of the cottage over the road where they got planning permission for an extension and have (hopefully in the in the process of re-building) reduced the cottage to one end wall – the Ypres in 1918 look.

No, it is a rant about un-friendly local authority and government websites.

I do realise they have may lawyers leaning over their necks whilst they are designing them, but really.


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