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Norfolk MP Richard Bacon challenges fact that builders are told 'white is too white' under planning laws

PUBLISHED: 11:31 11 October 2016

Richard Bacon.

Richard Bacon.

Archant

Builders face having up to eight different choices of gutter colour being rejected under existing planning rules, MPs have heard.

Conservative Richard Bacon also explained how another builder was left frustrated after his preferred colour for plastering a house was rejected by council officials for being “too white”.

He said the builder ended up urging the planning officer to choose the best colour for him, as he criticised the struggles faced by those wanting to develop properties.

The South Norfolk MP added people living in the houses rather than council officials should be allowed to choose the materials as they will opt for the highest quality.

Speaking during the second reading of the Neighbourhood Planning Bill, Mr Bacon said he welcomed the proposed changes to the law as it gives “people a local voice”.

He went on: “The really important thing about getting the voice right is the voice of the people who are going to live in the dwellings.

“(Helen Hayes, Labour MP for Dulwich and West Norwood) said the local planning system should embrace every single house and talked about the colour of bricks, as if it were a good thing that local councillors were deciding the colour of bricks.

“I had a conversation with a local house builder recently who had a plan for a very modern house. Naturally he wanted a render that was commensurate with that - it was bright white.

“He had a conversation with his local planning officer, I’m not making this up, who said ‘No, no, no, it’s too white, it’s too stark, you shouldn’t do that’.

“So he got on the website and said ‘Can you look at the following page’, and she did and he said ‘Well, you choose the colour’.

“She was a little nonplussed by this and he said ‘Well you don’t want the one I want so why don’t you choose the one and save a whole load of time’.

“Eventually she did choose a colour, which she said he’ll change if he doesn’t like it in due course.

“But it really ought not to be necessary to have that sort of conversation. I’ve met builders who have had seven or eight different choices of gutter colour refused.”

Ms Hayes, intervening, said: “In each of our constituencies we can all think of examples of development which because of poor finishing, because of poor quality choices on building materials, blight their communities for decades.

“It’s not a trivial point that I’m making, it’s a point that once something is built it affects that community for many, many, many years to come and these things are important.”

Mr Bacon replied: “I agree with you that they’re important but the best people to choose the quality of the materials to make sure they’re done to the highest possible standard are the people who are going to live in those dwellings, not somebody else trying to make a profit margin out of it which is why more self-build and custom housebuilding will result in higher quality.”

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