‘Monstrous’ newbuild that looks like Titanic sprang up nextdoor cutting value of our homes by £25k – we got it torn down | The Sun

RESIDENTS have got their own back after a 'monstrous' newbuild sprang up next door – with the massive building now facing demolition.

They claimed their homes were worth £25,000 less after the brick-finished block of 12 flats in the coastal town of Whitstable, Kent started to resemble the Titanic.

The build was initially given planning permission, but residents claim the developers have since flouted planning laws.

And Canterbury City Council has since ordered the developers to tear down its roof and rear extension.

Helen Rich, 48, has lived on Essex Street, behind the apartment block on Canterbury Road, for seven years.

She described it as a "blot on the landscape".

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She said: "It's been compared to the Titanic and I can see where people are coming from.

"It looks like one of those big cruise ships that pulls up into a pretty little harbour in Greece and ruins the view. It's a blot on the landscape."

Helen, who owns a film production company with her husband, said the building overlooks her neighbours gardens and blocks out the sunlight.

She added: "It's imposing. It's totally overlooking the houses and shrouding them in darkness.

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"I'm all for innovation and regeneration – I'm not a nimby – but there's got to be a process and rules to follow.

"They have just shown a complete disregard for the planning process.

"What's the point of having to apply for planning permission if they can say they're building one thing and then build something totally different that's not in-keeping with the area."

Greg Lawrence, whose house is overlooked by the flats, said an estate agent told him the development has taken £25,000 off the value of his property on Essex Street.

The dad-of-two was heavily involved in objecting to the proposals, but claims he has not seen anyone from the council visit the property to inspect the building work.

He said: "It's a monstrosity and it's knocked £25,000 off the value of our house.

"The planning enforcement has been non-existent, despite us telling them about what's been going on for the last year and a half."

Simon Reynolds, 57, who has lived in a property directly behind the development for three years, also raised concerns about a lack of inspections by the council.

The IT worker said: "It's hideous. It looks like a big white box. The original artist impression showed a much smaller, red brick building, which was further back, lower down and more in-keeping with the other properties.

"This building overlooks our gardens. It's intrusive and an invasion of our privacy.

"A lot of our neighbours have young kids whose bedrooms are at the back of the house.

"They don't want people being able to look down into their rooms from their balconies.

"I can't understand why it hasn't been regularly inspected and why it's been allowed to get to this stage."

Sylvia Lutz, 79, lives opposite the development on Canterbury Road.

The grandmother-of-one said she understands the top floor of the three-storey building was built without planning permission.

She said: "I've been looking out of my window at that monstrosity for so long – it's looked horrible at every stage of the development and it's been so noisy.

"It's hideous from the back and the front is such a mess. The insulating blocks were flying off in the wind so they pinned them down with straps.

"But then the straps were flapping and we couldn't sleep for the noise.

"We've had a lot of disruption, with the road being closed and traffic lights, and for what?

"It's been going on for two years now and we just want it to be finished, but we want it to be done properly.

"We don't want it to be an eyesore. The top storey was built without planning permission.

"They should be made to do it according to the planning permission – at the moment they're trying to be too greedy."

Sylvia, who worked in commercial property law before retiring, said she is concerned the development will never be finished.

She added: "There's also the worry that the developers will run out of money before it's finished and we'll be left with that hideous view."

Mark Newman, 52, whose property on Essex Street is overlooked by the new flats, also suggested the developers haven't adhered to planning laws.

He said: "They've built something which they haven't got permission to build. It looks nothing like the artist impressions.

"The developers have a total disregard for the planning laws.

"It's overlooking our gardens and it's transformed the views from our houses. It's also going to block out a lot of the light.

"The residents of that block will be able to see straight into our properties. It's an invasion of privacy.

"The front of the building is dangerous too. When it was wet and windy, the insulation was flying off into the street."

The dad-of-two, who works in architectural lighting, said he is worried the flats will become Airbnbs.

He added: "There's also the worry it will just be turned into Airbnbs like so many of the properties round here.

"And that creates a whole new problem because people staying in an Airbnb won't have the same respect for the area as us."

Canterbury City Council spokesman Rob Davies confirmed they are "considering options around enforcement".

He said: "The developer made his revised planning application only after our planning enforcement team investigated the case and called out the breach with the developer.

"While the application was under consideration, the developer was aware that the continued building works he was carrying out were at his own risk.

"Following the committee's refusal, we are now considering options around enforcement, but are not in a position to confirm details about this at the moment."

The Sun has approached development firm Whitstable Nest for comment.

A spokesman for Canterbury City Council said: "Following the recent decision of our Planning Committee to refuse the revised planning application, we have now served a planning enforcement notice requiring the demolition of the rear extension to the building and the roof.

"The enforcement notice requires this demolition work to be completed within three months.

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"It should be noted that the owner does have the right of appeal against this notice. Any appeal would need to be made, within 28 days from today, to the Planning Inspectorate.

"The developer does have the option – which we are strongly encouraging – of reconstructing the rear extension as per the previous planning permission for the building." 

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