Saturday, 7 February 2009

Chilterns 'water mill', Grand Designs

For more, see my post below :

and the discussion with the neighbour who objected on the comments section of Confessions of a Conservation Officer blog on the subject.
also comments under this post.

Here's the neighbour's view and photos on a new blog:

from which I took the photo above, and acknowledge the source.

The diffculty is, of course, that planning is not a simple matter and it may be that, despite the consequences for the neighbours, all i's have now been dotted and t's crossed.
I look forward to hearing what the Ombudsman has to say.

Channel Four has its own comments section:
I add - the shops owned by the mill builder rang bells - and now I have read the Grand Designs comments I do recall that he has had planning run-ins in the past, with shop frontage in Muswell Hill? The Muswell Hill Gaudi. A google brings up national news reports.
'While constructing his homage to Catalonia's most famous architect, Mr Ostwald claims a council building inspector told him the building was fine and he could continue. The council deny this.
He admits not getting planning permission but vows he will not observe an order to remove the shop-front: "It's different to the pseudo Edwardian-ness of almost every shop in this area. It stands out for its originality. The council want everything standard and uniform." '

The shop is in a Conservation Area.

'Haringey council is adamant that Mr Ostwald must either seek retrospective planning permission, or tear down the Gaudi shop-front: "The council has served an enforcement notice on the owner which requires him to reinstate the shop-front and to abide by the planning permission granted in 1999. The notice will come into effect on November 15." '

An update on that:

Extract: The owner of a controversial Muswell Hill Broadway shopfront has been fined £500 for failing to obey a court order.
Chris Ostwald, who owns Art for Art's Sake, did not have planning permission from Haringey Council to build a distinctive Gaudi-inspired shopfront, which was unveiled in July 2004.
A retrospective planning application was refused in 2005, and Mr Ostwald, 44, pulled down the shop-front last month.
But because the illegal shopfront was in existence for almost two years, he appeared at Tottenham Magistrates Court on Tuesday where he was found guilty of failing to obey a court order to remove it...

So - not the first time.

More discussion:,6149.30/topicseen.html

( I gather the latter is for refugees from another forum - welcome, that's how this began!)

And all, it seems, is not quite as it appeared on Grand Designs:

Update: see also my post

Water Mill story
"You might like to check out the channel4 comments page for this episode again. They have deleted the post that referred to his gaudi shopfront, as well as one other that referred to him as a "self-righteous city prig" - which I also personally found a bit unnecessarily vituperative - whatever our feelings might be about the guy. However they have left posts that describe us as "nosey","jealous", "petty", "small-minded", "interfering busy-body" and "spoilers". " Neighboursinthe woods.

Oooh - censorhsip Channel4?

I have, as I said below in the blog comments, tried to leave comments on the Grand Designs site which have not so far been published. One I have reposted in the comments below by someone else has been today (Feb 11th). I wonder if that will also be removed soon?

UPDATED Thursday 12th

It seems Channel Four has finally contacted the neighbours. Look forward to hearing more.

I still wait publication of some of my comments.

UPDATED Friday 13th (see comments below) live link:

UPDATED Monday 16th (see comments section) on the Neighbours in the Woods blog:

Another forum discussion:

UPDATED Wednesday 18th Feb:

UPDATED 23rd Feb:

UPDATED 27th Feb: See Comments from Neighboursin the woods below)
Been promised full response from CH4/GD in next few days

UPDATED March 2nd:

another two for the collection:

UPDATED March 3rd: (see comments section re visiting);



expat said...

From the Planning Committee - 19 March 2008

The officer states "Following receipt of a letter from the applicant’s architect explaining the design was going
to relate to an existing terrace level, a discussion took place on site with the case officer
regarding the intended slab level. The case officer subsequently confirmed in writing that the slab level for the ground floor of the main dwelling was agreed by reference to a datum
marker and an existing tree following the site meeting."

So sounds like he did in fact get the verbal agreement he mentions in the GD program.

Caius Plinius said...

I found the manufactured 'David and Goliath' aspect of the programme extremely irritating. I can't be alone in finding Mr Ostwald's flagrant flouting of the planning conditions to be arrogant in the extreme.
As for the house. Jesus wept - little wonder he has a background in set design. It was a hideously naff pastiche that should have stayed on the back of th yoghurt pot. As the CGI design was playing out, I thoguth to myself, "Please, oh please don't let him be tacky enough to put a bloody water wheel on it." And, lo, as I said the words, the wheel appeared. Aaargh!

Nemesis said...

Well, I feel much the same about the faux 'mill'iness of it all.

However, as I have posted as a 'live' link above:

which starts to put a somewhat different perspective on matters.

NeighboursInTheWoods said...

more discussion:

NeighboursInTheWoods said...

given where we are - this gave me a good laugh!!

Nemesis said...

Yes - quite amusing!

NeighboursInTheWoods said...

yet more discussion - waiting for admin to approve me so I can join in ;)

Nemesis said...

I've added that to the links.

NeighboursInTheWoods said...

You might like to check out the channel4 comments page for this episode again. They have deleted the post that referred to his gaudi shopfront, as well as one other that referred to him as a "self-righteous city prig" - which I also personally found a bit unnecessarily vituperative - whatever our feelings might be about they guy. However they have left posts that describe us as "nosey","jealous", "petty", "small-minded", "interfering busy-body" and "spoliers".

Nemesis said...

Dear dear. Being even handed I have posted that in today's news update. Now what made them do that I wonder?

Nemesis said...

I also have tried to leave comments today which so far have not been published. This one not from me was, I wonder how long it will remain?

"... saw the photographs on the blog of the neighbour who complained and I have to say I'm not surprised he is spitting feathers - the 'watermill' looms forbiddingly over the fence like the lookout post in a prison and the walkway appears to be set in such a way as to allow pedestrians a premium view into the neighbour's house. Also the property seems to have been set only a couple of feet from the boundary, something that was not even hinted at in the programme. The way it was filmed it looked as if there were no neighbours for miles but in fact the house next door (a bungalow I think) is right in the shadow of this building. I would be gutted to see that spring up next to me and I am incredulous that the council gave approval for it in that form - if indeed they did which I appreciate is central to the ongoing debate."
Posted by Callie on 11/02/2009 10:21:41

NeighboursInTheWoods said...

Another interesting burst of comment that will make it even harder for GD/CH4 to claim that their programme was "fair":

NeighboursInTheWoods said...

Another forum for the list. Are you watching GD/CH4??

NeighboursInTheWoods said...

nem - see our blog for an update

NeighboursInTheWoods said...

another one:

NeighboursInTheWoods said...

Nem this thread on the BBC message boards has the potential to become quite interesting...

Nemesis said...

Thanks - have added that as an update above.

NeighboursInTheWoods said...

Very interesting email from an architect i received - see my blog :)

NeighboursInTheWoods said...

Just found yet another one:

Been promised full response from CH4/GD in next few days

NeighboursInTheWoods said...

another one for the collection:

NeighboursInTheWoods said...

and another...

Lazy Cat said...

Having read all the exchanges about the water mill in the woods I hopped in my car and went to have a look at the situation. Nobody was in at the Water Mill so I had a wander round. I then went along and up the drive owned by neighbours in the woods. Nobody was in there either. it was immediately apparent that some very biased and unfair editing was used to hide the fact that this three storey monstrosity towers over and overlooks the neighbour's property. Why it had to be built right on the boundary when it could easily have been moved some distance on another plot of land beggars belief. As a fan of Channel 4 Grand Designs I feel disappointed and let down by the programme. I feel that Channel 4 biased editing just goes to show that Grand Designs should be placed in the "entertainment" category of programming along with Dr Who and other fictional viewing and should not be taken as a factual programme.

NeighboursInTheWoods said...

Lazy cat - Thank you for your comments. I don't mean to be critical, and I understand that you meant well - but given the venomous comments including implied threats of violence and arson against us before we were forced to publish our blog, and the fact that GD broadcast enough information for us to be located - my wife is very nervous and upset about the possibility of people coming to look for themselves - and the thought of someone having had a look around our property while we weren't there doesn't exactly fill me with joy either. Can I make a plea to everyone else that wants to help - please don't try this at home!!

again lazy cat I'm sorry if this sounds ungrateful - but we are by instinct very private people - and you would not believe the intolerable stress we have been under for the last three years! I hope you understand :)