Question: I read an article recently that referred to a celebrity getting consent for a tennis court in the garden of his Grade II-listed home. There were comments about the planners insisting on strict planting/gardening conditions and the fact that there could not be any floodlighting or other form of lighting. Is this usual or were these planners just being difficult?
Answer: The fact that the house is listed means that the building and its surroundings should be protected from changes that would alter the special historical or architectural importance of the building and/or its setting.
The property is Grade II-listed, which means it is a building of special interest warranting every effort being made to preserve it. Both planning permission and listed building consent are likely to have been required for the tennis court.
When the planners dealt with the applications they would have had to consider, for instance, environmental issues, such as any impact on neighbouring property or the setting of the house, especially if it is in a rural area; the consequences of losing trees and the need for a replacement tree-planting scheme; significant earthworks; whether the house is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the impact of the tennis court on that, and light pollution from floodlights.
Planning and listed building consent are often refused and so if, in this case, consent has been granted (albeit subject to certain conditions that will preserve the building and its surroundings), then the decision of the planners is fair and not particularly onerous.
Remember that each application is considered strictly on its own merits.
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Fiona is a partner in the residential real estate team at Thring LLP www.thrings.com.