The Guardian Newspaper has reported that the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea (“RBKC”) has served a notice under s.215 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (“the Act”) on the owner of a house within the borough who has painted their house in a bright red and white stripey colour scheme, compared to a stick of seaside rock and the Sunderland football club strip.

Section 215 (1) of the the Act provides that:

If it appears to the local planning authority that the amenity of a part of their area, or of an adjoining area, is adversely affected by the condition of land in their area, they may serve on the owner and occupier of the land a notice under this section“.

The section is usually deployed to deal with land or buildings in disrepair or in a dilapidated condition. The house in Kensington & Chelsea is not, however, dilapidated or in disrepair  – the neighbours have, rather, complained to RBKC that the colour scheme is not to their taste.

In our view, there is a serious question as to whether s.215 of the Act can be relied on by RKBC in this context. The painting of the exterior of the house in different colours is, in our view, an ordinary use of the house for the purpose for which it is built, as a residence. It is also notable that there are plenty of houses in parts of Kensington that are brightly painted – for example on some properties on Portobello Road. These houses are brightly painted but not striped. They are, however, situated together in such a way that the overall effect is of a profusion of colours along that part of the road. The effect is not so different to the house in respect of which the notice has been served.

Section 217 of the Act provides a route whereby the owner of the house may appeal against the notice to a magistrates’ court.  One ground of appeal is ”that the condition of the land to which the notice relates is attributable to, and such as results in the ordinary course of events from, the carrying on of operations or a use of land which is not in contravention of Part III” of the Act. Part III of the Act relates to control of development through planning process. Another ground is that the condition of the land does not adversely affect the amenity of the area.

The owner in this case might well consider that the condition of the house in its colourful paint scheme is attributable to the use of the land in a way which does not contravene Part III, and/or that it does not adversely affect the amenity of the area, and, therefore not in a condition which can give rise to enforcement action under s.215 of the Act. It will be interesting to see whether the owner does appeal and, if so, whether a stripey paint scheme can be treated as offending against the amenity of an area. We think, on the whole, that it should not.

If you would like further information on issues relating to the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, please speak to Christopher Proudley, Druces LLP’s planning consultant.

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