An appeal by Mr G. Cramer, owner of 1 Church Passage, has been rejected and Barnet Council has won official backing for an enforcement notice requiring its removal.
The Barnet Society and other groups which lodged formal objections to what local residents said looked like a “Swiss chalet” have hailed the result as an “excellent decision” because it supports the importance of the conservation area in Wood Street and around the Parish Church of St John the Baptist.
In her four-page decision rejecting Mr Cramer’s appeal against the council’s enforcement notice, the planning inspector, Wendy McKay, said the unauthorised installation of varnished cedar cladding to the upper floor and part of the ground floor of 1 Church Passage was insensitive and represented “an incongruous and dominating feature in the street scene”.
She agreed with Barnet Council that 1 Church Passage was located in a prominent position and that planning permission should not be granted for timber cladding.
“I conclude that the development has a significant adverse visual impact on the character and appearance of the surrounding area. It materially detracts from the character and appearance of the Wood Street conservation area and the setting of the nearby listed buildings.
“I disagree that the new materials provide a softer backdrop to the trees and a more natural frame for the area, even taking into account the fact that the timber will weather over time. The cladding undoubtedly looks odd and out of keeping in this location.”
Ms McKay ordered that the timber cladding must be removed within three months and replaced with the original surface of rough pebble dashing. She rejected Mr Cramer’s suggestion that the timber should be stripped of varnish and painted white instead; she considered that his request for twelve months to carry out remedial work was excessive and unreasonable.
Robin Bishop said the unauthorised timber cladding was the “most serious and conspicuous” of a number of recent infringements in the Wood Street conservation area.
Mr Cramer argued in his appeal that 1 Church Passage was not visible in High Street from the north looking south, and in closer views the landscaping partially screened the building. Ms McKay disagreed and found that when observed from High Street to the south-east, the views could not be “dismissed as providing mere glimpses of the offending element”
In his submission urging the inspector to refuse planning permission, Robin Bishop, head of the Barnet Society’s planning team, said the unauthorised timber cladding was the “most serious and conspicuous” of a number of recent infringements in the Wood Street conservation area.
Unless a stand was taken Barnet Council’s planning policy would be “widely perceived as worthless”. He described the planning inspector’s ruling and support for the enforcement notice as “splendid news” for those campaigning to preserve Barnet’s historic heritage.