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Wood you believe it? Cabinet maker in planning dispute over cladding materials

PUBLISHED: 07:50 12 November 2018 | UPDATED: 10:52 12 November 2018

Andrew Lodge at the new house he has built to let at Irstead, with the wood effect fibre cement cladding which the Broads Authority have asked him to remove as it is not real wood. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Andrew Lodge at the new house he has built to let at Irstead, with the wood effect fibre cement cladding which the Broads Authority have asked him to remove as it is not real wood. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

A cabinet maker is at loggerheads with Broads bosses, after using “wood effect” cladding on a holiday home, when the authority expected real wood to be used.

The Ice House which Andrew Lodge is renovating to live in at Irstead which has real elm cladding. Andrew is in dispute with the Broads Authority about the house he has built to let at the same site, which the Broads Authority have asked him to remove the wood effect fibre cement cladding, as it is not real wood. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe Ice House which Andrew Lodge is renovating to live in at Irstead which has real elm cladding. Andrew is in dispute with the Broads Authority about the house he has built to let at the same site, which the Broads Authority have asked him to remove the wood effect fibre cement cladding, as it is not real wood. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

In 2013, Andrew Lodge applied to the BA for permission to build a holiday home close to an ice house on the banks of the River Ant in Irstead, near Wroxham.

In 2013, Mr Lodge applied to the BA for permission to build a holiday home close to an ice house on the banks of the River Ant.

This permission was granted the following year, on the basis it would be an enabling development to fund the full restoration of the ice house, a heritage asset of the BA.

The holiday home has now been built and the restoration of the ice house is well under way.

Andrew and Marion Lodge at the new house Andrew has built to let at Irstead, with the wood effect fibre cement cladding which the Broads Authority have asked him to remove as it is not real wood. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYAndrew and Marion Lodge at the new house Andrew has built to let at Irstead, with the wood effect fibre cement cladding which the Broads Authority have asked him to remove as it is not real wood. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

However, Mr Lodge now finds himself in a row with the BA after using fibre cement wood effect cladding on the holiday home - rather than wood itself.

After being alerted to the BA’s objection in March, Mr Lodge submitted a retrospective planning application for permission to retain the wood effect cladding.

However, this application was refused by the BA’s planning committee, by a margin of five votes of three.

Mr Lodge said the entire situation had “escalated out of all proportion”.

The wood effect fibre cement cladding Andrew Lodge has put on the new house he has built to let at Irstead, which the Broads Authority have asked him to remove, as it is not real wood. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe wood effect fibre cement cladding Andrew Lodge has put on the new house he has built to let at Irstead, which the Broads Authority have asked him to remove, as it is not real wood. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

He said: “I have been to all of my neighbours and none of them have raised any objections to how the home looks and it is some 75m away from the water’s edge.

“I am just an ordinary person trying to make a living and now they want me to find another £13,000 for new cladding.”

Mr Lodge said he selected the fibre cement option as it would require significantly less maintenance than the timber option, while it also cost around £7,000 less to use.

He added that to date he had spent around £280,000 on renovating the ice house and that the cost of replacing and disposing of the cladding would restrict the continuing work on it.

Bill Dickson, a member of the committee, however, said allowing the cladding to remain would compromise “the integrity of the planning system”.

The three members who voted in favour of Mr Lodge’s application were Lana Hempsall, Vic Thomson and Mike Barnard.

A room divided

The dispute created a clear divide in the room at the committee, with members split over whether the “wood effect” cladding was acceptable.

Vic Thomson said: “Our greatest concern is the restoration of the ice house and that is the most pertinent issue here.

“Given the holiday house is some 75m back I really don’t think people will notice the difference.”

He was supported by both Mike Barnard and Lana Hempsall in his view.

Mrs Hempsall said: “The visual appearance of the holiday home was never a huge part of the conversation when originally determining the application.

“If I were the applicant, I would appeal to the planning inspectorate.”

Bill Dickson, however, said: “As a boat owner I regularly travel through the area and can tell the difference.”

Haydn Thirtle, BA chairman added: “If we allow this, it would get to the stage where it would perceived that we would allow anything - which is unacceptable.”

History of the dispute

The saga began five years ago, in 2013, when Mr Lodge purchased the ice house, which at the time was in a state of disrepair.

He submitted a planning application to the Broads Authority to build a holiday house on the site, which would act as an enabling development to fund the restoration of the ice house.

In 2014, this application was approved, when it was decided the benefits from the ice house’s restoration outweighed the fact the house was located in a spot the BA would ordinarily disapprove of.

This application included the use of timber windows and timber boarding, however, the home was built using wood effect UPVC windows and fibre cement cladding. However, during a site visit, BA officers raised disapproval of this.

In 2016, Mr Lodge successfully applied to vary a condition allowing the UPVC windows to remain.

The latest application, though, to allow the fibre cement cladding to remain was refused.

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