‘My council’s planning red tape has cost me £100,000’

A survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, a professional body, found that 84pc of respondents cited material costs to be impeding construction – and it’s a problem that is not going away. 

The Construction Leadership Council, a government body, said the impact of the war in Ukraine was “only beginning to be felt by UK construction”. The energy crisis is also hitting the cost of steel, cement, glass and other energy-intensive but vital products. 

On top of that, there were already huge supply problems with timber, plaster, bricks, aircrete blocks and some roofing products.

The CLC said prices had risen by 10pc to 15pc in three months on top of price increases at the end of 2021. The greatest impact, it said, is for small and medium-sized businesses.

And don’t I know it. But the most frustrating part of this is that if the planning process for listed buildings were easier, and if time limits imposed on the local authority’s decision-­making – as outlined by the Government in its overhaul of the planning process – were already in place, I might now be happily living in my house with cash to spare.

Instead, I am struggling to comprehend the red tape in which my project is mired. The most recent quote for work is a full £100,000 more than in 2020. I’ve been living with family during the planning process, having sold my previous home in order to buy and unwilling (and unable) to rent indefinitely.

Of course the job of any conservation officer is to preserve the heritage of our buildings, ensure construction is within design guidelines and materials used on listed buildings are suitable for both the style and health of the property. 

But do they need to be so zealous – especially on such a tiny home with an ugly flat-roofed 1960s extension that I’ve been desperate to improve and live in before it deteriorates even more?

Instead, the council’s rigid working practices have meant delay after delay. Thanks to Covid and short-staffing, almost every email I’ve sent has returned an out-of-office message from a recipient who is either sick or on holiday or has left early on a Friday afternoon, leaving communication to stagnate for days, sometimes weeks.

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