Strawbale House

This blog is intended to chart our progress through the self-build process, from half-hearted plot-hunting through to completion of the build. The twist is that we're building the house from timber and straw (hence the blog title).

Click on the image at the end of each post to see that day's photos.

Wednesday, 4 April 2007


Today should have been a red-letter day. It's the deadline for exchange of missives, set by the Walkers, who wanted the transaction to take place before the end of the financial year. Unfortunately yesterday I had a call from the Ecology Building Society, wo have noticed, or decided, that the letter from planning I gave them as indication of the soon-to-be-agreed planning consent was inadequate, and that they can't release funds until it has been formally agreed. Don't blame them, really, but it throws us back at the mercy of the Planning department.
Emailed the Head of Planning, Ian Lindley, and received a reply from his immediate subodinate Brian Frater, who seemed a bit uppity that I'd interpreted their letter last month as suggesting that permission was imminent. Raised a load of red herrings in an attempt to imply that there was still a lot of work to be done before a decision could be made. I couldn't believe it. Our application was registered on October 23rd. They have an obligation to give an answer within eight weeks. They have now had something like 22 weeks, and still can't get their act together. A complete bloody shower, the lot of them. They wouldn't last a month in the private sector.
I quickly fired off an email before I had to go out to work, and struggled gamely to keep it non-confrontational. It ran as follows:

"Dear Mr. Frater, Thank you for your prompt reply. The revocation of the original consent is purely an in-house matter to be dealt with however you deem necessary by your department. Charles knows I am perfectly happy for this to be revoked, and I can't begin to understand why it is taking so long. It certainly doesn't require any input from me or from the vendor of the plot. We were told by letter dated 14th March 2007, that we would be contacted 'directly', by Nuala McKinlay [of your legal department]. We have heard nothing. The slate roof I am also perfectly happy with, and my original planning application (which you have had since October 23rd) specifically states that I will have a slate roof. The requirements set out in Alan Scott's letter of 12th January are, as far as I know, all well in hand. I was shown a plan of revised access by Roger Dodd, which he sent on to planning some weeks ago. The passing place has been installed (again, some weeks ago). In addition to the impression I garnered from the letter from Charles, I was also assured verbally by him, on February 13th, that your department had, after lengthy deliberation "decided to support" my application, as indeed we were assured by Frank Bennett before Christmas. Perhaps now you can understand why we 'gained an impression' that planning was about to be granted. Regards, Damon Rodwell cc Councillor Alex Nicol"

Why is it that organizations with more than a few dozen employees are incapable of functioning efficiently? As well as local government, I'm thinking, of course, of BT, who took two months and four site visits to decide that they couldn't give me a broadband connection, despite the fact that there was one in the house until the day before we moved in. A plague on all their houses!

On the bright side, I had a draft copy of the ground-floor drawing from Chris at Twisted Designs, as shown below. He's had to knock my original idea around a bit to comply with disabled access legislation.

No comments: