The vacation home owner has to demolish an ‘eyesore’ building that violates privacy
A vacation home owner is forced to demolish his backyard patio, which soars 10 feet in the air after it was built without planning permission, to the ire of neighbors, town planners and conservationists.
Locals say the “eyesore” structure, which overlooks the grave of famous fossil hunter Mary Anning in Lyme Regis, Dorset, is an invasion of privacy.
The council has denied subsequent planning permission for the decking, branding it “presumptuous” and unacceptable, meaning the homeowner must remove it or face further action.
Local residents have claimed the terrace – which soars nearly ten feet in the air – was made to lure holidaymakers to a cottage adjoining St Michael the Archangel in picturesque Lyme Regis, Dorset.
Pictures show it on a holiday home website, with a view from the platform of the nearby coast, clearly visible in promotional images.
But the city council has now refused approval for the building, branding it “presumptuous” and “unacceptable” and saying it is causing potential harm to the area, while angry neighbors said it was invading their privacy.
An ‘eyesore’ of a raised viewing platform has drawn criticism from locals in Lyme Regis
The platform can be seen from a historic cemetery, in what locals call an insult to decency
It was built just a few meters from the grave of the famous local fossil hunter, Mary Anning
The paleontologist is one of the key ex-residents of Lyme Regis (pictured here digging for fossils)
The platform was built last September and the owners applied for a subsequent building permit in November.
It is believed that they rent out the property to vacationers.
Any decking over 30cm high will need planning permission – but this example is almost 3m tall and residents say that means all visitors can see in their windows.
Several neighbors have complained about the structure popping up near their back gardens.
One said: “We would like to reject the planning application for the recently constructed building for reasons of privacy.
“The tower-like structure of huge proportions dominates the skyline, even more so when people are on it.
“It’s clearly visible to us, and we’re three houses away.
“It was probably built to offer a view along the coast, but due to its height it also offers a view of the windows and back gardens of the adjoining houses, including ours.
“We consider this an invasion of our privacy.”
Another neighbor added: “Without prior planning permission and with no regard for those who see it on a daily basis, we consider it an eyesore in an area designated as a conservation area.
“If this structure is allowed to remain in its current form, it will set a precedent for others to follow.”
One added: “An unsightly wooden deck tower was erected… to provide views across Church Cliff and more directly down the churchyard towards Portland, but it also gives users a view of the local gardens and into bedroom windows.
“We understand that people using the raised terrace are most likely holiday guests with no interest in showing consideration for local families or showing respect for the overlooked Garden of Tranquility that houses the memories of recently deceased Church residents Street to be appreciated.
“The seating on the observation deck seems to indicate that it is likely to be used by guests for eating and drinking, and it is very likely that voices from this height will also prove intrusive.”
“It also seems inappropriate that people walking through the churchyard are confronted with the sight of a raised platform on which a group of people are carousing.”
There are fears the platform will disturb the peace at the nearby cemetery
Locals have described the platform as “tower-like” and have asked for it to be dismantled
The viewing platform is so large that it can be seen from the cemetery
The platform was built at the end of a garden adjacent to the local church.
The property in question is Grade II Listed, was built in the 1700’s and is situated within a Conservation Area and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The terrace is made of wood, is 13 meters from the house and is separated from the house by a hedge.
Mike Garrity, head of planning at Dorset Council, said the deck was “not in keeping with the historical setting” and “excessively large”.
He added: “Without any public benefit it is considered to cause less than significant damage if it causes damage to St Michael’s Church and its accompanying churchyard, walls and railings, the tomb of Mary Anning and the Lyme Regis Conservation Area outweighs.
“Considering the location and height of the platform … and the extent of the view the platform affords of the properties to the north and south, retaining the elevated decks and platform would allow for an unacceptable level of noise, activity and views and be overbearing too.” adjoining properties.’
David Mitchell of HB Architectural Design said in a heritage statement to the city council that the terrace “would provide an attractive relaxation area and additional amenities for residents of the property”.
“There are similar raised seating areas on three or more other lots northeast of the lot that are also behind the churchyard wall,” he added.
“The proposal has no impact on the current provision of access to the property or the intensity of use of the home.
“Our client notified their neighbors … prior to building the elevated platform and raised no objections to the proposal.
“We believe this proposal will not have any significant impact on the streetscape or the listed building.
“There is already precedent for raised platforms behind similar properties in the area and we hope the Planning Board will support the proposal.”
The observation deck is hidden behind a nondescript cottage in the area
The view of the church from the top of the observation deck
Neighbor Cllr Belinda Bawden told the planners: “I’m afraid I have concerns about this one.
“The height of the deck is higher than the adjacent one on the right (seen from behind the houses from the cemetery); higher than the current height of the wall; and has a clear impact on the two neighboring gardens and houses on the left (from the cemetery).
“I know we have no mechanism to try to mitigate the impact of holiday lettings, but I personally feel that the two neighboring properties that I understand are in permanent residence and may benefit from the tranquility of the cemetery and the Local footpath is affected when the high deck/balcony is widely used by groups of holidaymakers.’
Dorset Council refused authorisation.
It is understood that measures can also be taken via another observation deck nearby.
WHO WAS MARY ANNING?
Mary Anning (pictured) was a famous 18th-century paleontologist
Mary Anning was a famous 18th-century paleontologist.
She came from a very poor family of religious dissenters and had never married or had children.
She was one of what is believed to be ten children and only one of two to reach adulthood.
Her father, a carpenter named Richard, introduced her to fossil hunting.
She is the inspiration behind the nursery rhyme “She Sells Shells by the Sea” inspired the young schoolgirl.
She was born in Lyme Regis, Dover, in 1799 and died of breast cancer at the age of 47.
As a woman in science at the time, it was even more difficult to build a credible reputation in any scientific field.
The scientific world in the 19th century was remarkably even more male-oriented than the testosterone-driven scientific world of today.
She searched the cliffs of Blue Lias during or shortly after inclement weather when the landslides uncovered new fossils.
In one such event, her dog, Tray, was killed and she nearly lost her life.
She famously discovered the first ichthyosaur skeleton to be correctly identified when she was 12 years old.
The immaculately preserved find was more than 5.2 meters long.
Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution was only published for half a century, and people debated what this monster was.
It was eventually named Ichthyosaur, meaning fish lizard.
In fact, it is neither a fish nor a lizard, but a marine reptile that lived around 201 to 194 million years ago.
She also found the first complete skeleton of a Plesiosaurus and the first pterodactyl – called Dimorphodon at the time – outside of Germany.
All of their marquee finds are now in the Natural History Museum.
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