Family ordered to paint their house beige six months after changing it to lilac

A family has been ordered to paint their house beige as their local council does not approve of the current colour.

Kate Codrington, 54, and her partner Ian Davis painted their house lilac last year, but have now been asked to paint it again.

The couple, who have been living in the property for six years, wanted to spruce up the house with a lick of paint to the outer walls.

They chose the colour also as a nod to the history of the area, which used to be home to a prominent art school – and lilac was popular with historic artists.

However, six months after completing the job, Kate and Ian received a letter from their local council saying they had received complaints from two members of the public about the colour of their house.

They were ordered to apply for planning permission, which they did, but it was then rejected.

Kate described the decision as “arbitrary, Big-Brother-ish and Kafkaesque”.

She said: “Our area is a lovely place with a supportive community around here. There are half a dozen little streets around here, all very similar and it is very diverse.

“Every summer there is a village fete, there is a lovely pub on the corner. The houses were built in the 1800s to house railway workers, so it has those working class roots but it is also bohemian as the Herkomer Art School was here in the 1970s.

“My husband set up a group in the first lockdown to offer support to those that needed it and we got more offers of help than requests for support, which shows just what sort of community it is.

“So when I received the letter, which was about six months after we painted the house, I felt afraid and paranoid.

“I really questioned myself and wondered if there was someone I had upset. So I put the issue on a local online forum and the support was overwhelming.”

She added that the council decision came at an uncanny time, as her book titled Second Spring is being published and has a theme of exploring self-expression in a “world that wants to shut us down”.

Their home, in Watford, Hertfordshire , was placed inside a Conservation Zone in 1913 but Kate says the rules around what is and is not allowed are vague.

To make matters worse, other houses that are in the same area and even on the same street, fall outside of the zone and have been painted various colours of blue and yellow without consequence.

Their home was previously a mild yellow, Kate said.

She added: “This is Watford, it’s not pretty – it’s grounded and most of the houses look the same.

“The lavender colour we chose was very popular in the 80s, and it was the colour used by many artists of the local Herkomer School of Art.

“But now, it seems one person in the council decides what is ok or not.”

Kate and her husband have set up a petition about the council decision, which currently has 250 signatures.

They are hoping to use it to engage the council in conversation about the colour of their home.

But they have been told that that they now have to appeal by writing to the Home Secretary Priti Patel, something Kate described as “bizarre”.

Ben Martin, Head of Planning and Development at Watford Borough Council said: “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.

“As with all applicants, the homeowners do have the right to appeal this decision.

“The council will continue to work positively with communities within Conservation Areas to ensure they are aware of the planning rules that apply to their homes and to provide clear guidance on what types of works would likely be permitted.”