A COUNCIL could force a couple to repaint their entire home after claiming the lilac colour they used was harmful to the surrounding area.
Kate Codrington, 55, and her partner Ian Davis, 62, redecorated the front of their house in Oxhey, Hertfordshire, last August.
But after hiring a decorator to change the building colour from cream to a light lilac, they have now been told the swap is not allowed due to the period of the properties in the street.
Watford Borough Council have rejected their retrospective planning application after a mystery complaint.
When the work was finished the couple were enjoying living in their newly painted property – until the council found out about the job from an unknown tip-off.
Kate and Ian claim they learned from the council they needed to have secured planning permission first before painting the house and were told to submit a retrospective application as it is a conservation area.
Writer Kate, who has lived in the house more than 15 years, said she was "severely shocked" to find out the application had been refused earlier this month.
According to the council decision report, the officer described the lilac colour as "inappropriate to the period of the building which would have used stone like colours".
They added that other painted neighbouring properties in the street are "finished in mostly cream and off-white shades".
The application went on to say that the lilac colour "harms the character and appearance" of the property and conservation area it sits in and said it was "unacceptable in terms of design".
Kate said: "I have lived in this house since 2005 and this is just tedious. The council shouldn't be picking on house colours especially with all of the big ugly tower blocks in Watford.
"The council should be focusing on much bigger issues like foodbanks."
One of the key reasons the application was turned down was because it lies within a conservation area – which restricts work to properties which could normally be done without planning permission.
Kate and Ian have started a petition to abolish the conservation zone in Oxhey, which was introduced in 2013.
In their petition, they describe conservation areas as "unfair, costly and an undemocratic burden on those who live within them".
It has received 143 signatures, but the idea of abolishing the status has been met with a mixed reaction from locals.
Explaining why she had her house repainted, Kate said: "It is life-enhancing and lifts hearts on a grey day. The world needs more joy and colour.
"The house had been shabby for two years and it showed dirt. We didn't know permission was needed and I wasn't aware about the conservation zone.
"We love living in Oxhey, it's a great neighbourhood but it's an architectural jumble and that's how we like it, so what exactly are we conserving?
"We don't know who complained. To live in a community as friendly and diverse as ours and for someone to be so spiteful to complain is disappointing.
"I won't let small-minded moaners and council bureaucracy ruin my mental health but we are considering what action to take about this decision."
Ben Martin, head of planning and development at Watford Borough Council, said the authority has to protect Watford's heritage.
He added: "Planning issues do range hugely in scale from the paint used on a house in a conservation area to large scale developments providing much needed homes for Watford families.
"However big or small the application, we carefully consider each and every one against the planning policies and guidance that apply to that specific project to get the right outcome for our community.
"Protecting the town's heritage remains a big issue for a number of residents."
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