Coming to a street near you? After the Coalition relaxes planning laws, could 'alien spaceship' houses and extensions be built on your road?

  • Residents in leafy North London suburb claim development has left their street a 'total mess'
  • Space-age house won architectural design award last year - but neighbours say it looks like a spaceship

By Daily Mail Reporter

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With its space-age design and ultra-modern, grey exterior, it is hardly a home in keeping with its traditional residential surroundings.

But despite neighbours' objections, this unconventional property in Highgate, North London is nearing completion - and it could be a sign of things to come for homeowners.

The super-sleek 'alien spaceship' house belonging to architect Mike Russum caused fury from residents this week, just days after the Government's relaxation of planning laws caused similar levels of indignation among MPs.

Ultra-modern: Mike Russum's property in Highgate, North London, has been likened to a UFO due to its space-age appearance

Ultra-modern: Mike Russum's property in Highgate, North London, has been likened to a UFO due to its space-age appearance

Unfinished: The sleek home remains surrounded by steel fencing and tarpaulin six years after construction started

Unfinished: The sleek home remains surrounded by steel fencing and tarpaulin six years after construction started

Ministers warned that plans to allow homeowners to build extensions and conservatories of up to almost 30ft without permission will be a recipe for neighbour disputes.

Although the property was built from scratch starting six years ago, Mr Russum's construction is an example of the kind of outlandish designs which could spring up without objection now David Cameron has relaxed planning laws so homeowners can develop without permission.

MPs and planning experts have warned of a divisive planning 'free-for-all' now 'permitted development rights' are set to be relaxed for three years.

The proposals from Communities Secretary Eric Pickles will double the size of extensions that can be built without permission. A consultation will be published soon.

 

Andrew Smith, a former Labour Cabinet minister, said: ‘I’m very concerned that we will see an explosion of unsightly and un-neighbourly development.

'By scrapping planning controls the Government will leave many people powerless to maintain a decent quality environment.

Prestigious: Mr Russum's design won an architectural award last year, earning praise for 'maximising the potential of a narrow infill site'

Prestigious: Mr Russum's design won an architectural award last year, earning praise for 'maximising the potential of a narrow infill site'

Leafy: Four-bedroom houses on Wood Lane regularly fetch asking prices of £3.5m

Leafy: Four-bedroom houses on Wood Lane regularly fetch asking prices of £3.5m

'You will have people putting up huge extensions and to hell with the neighbours.

'I want people to get on and be able to improve their homes, but it has to be done in a neighbourly way.

'If this goes ahead I have no doubt we will see some very serious neighbour disputes, with no one to arbitrate in the way the planning system does at the moment.'

Families on the desirable Wood Lane in Highgate, North London, say the long-running construction of Mr Russum's house has left their road a 'mess' and even forced property prices down.

The house is in a conservation area surrounded by homes built in the late 18th century, and was designed by architects Birds Portchmouth Russum (BPR), owned by partner in the firm Mr Russum.

Q and A

Last year the design won the Architecture Prize at the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition, which described the posh pad as a ‘four-storey house (which) maximises the potential of a narrow infill site’.

It adds: 'The traditional relationship of living and sleeping accommodation is inverted with the bedroom and bathrooms at garden level and the living area above to enjoy the south aspect and views over London.

'The high-level living element (is) prefabricated and craned into position.'

But neighbours have this week slammed the house - saying it makes the prestigious road look a ‘total and utter mess’ with its fenced off entrance, scattered traffic cones and blue tarpaulin.

Who are these guys? Josh Wood, nine, looks a little bewildered as David Cameron and Nick Clegg hold forth during a visit to a housing development in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire

Who are these guys? Josh Wood, nine, looks a little bewildered as David Cameron and Nick Clegg hold forth during a visit to a housing development in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire

They are now demanding to know when the house - which is wedged between two existing homes - will be finished, six years since construction work began.

Owner Mike Russum blamed planning laws, which he says delayed the completion of the house.

He told the Ham and High newspaper this week: 'Certainly there has been fierce opposition by a few neighbours.

'We understand the concerns about the delay to its completion, which has been painfully experienced by us.

'The house is not conventional and explores various architectural ideas about creating a joyful home appropriate to this age.

'It is unashamedly modern and we accept that it will not be everybody’s cup of tea.

'However, the design won the Architecture Prize at the Royal Academy Exhibition last year and we consider that to be a cultured endorsement.'

 

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

For the people complaining about shoddy building practices, the article explains that councils will still have to sign off on the quality of work, so this won't be any more of a problem, than it is now.

Click to rate     Rating   2

Fantastic house! Something nice and innovative!

Click to rate     Rating   4

Last time I visited London I couldnt find anyone to get directions, no one spoke English, the newspaper stand, Romanian, The road sweeper in his HI-VIZ, nope, Polish, not a word, even at Bond Street Tube station, the girl from Ghana laughed at me and babbled something inaudible to me.. I think Swahili, .. Anyway... I got there in the end.. - Proquci , Akmola, United Kingdom, 09/9/2012 14:47 - Maybe if you spoke better English than you write they could have understood you?

Click to rate     Rating   7

I think freedom of expression is important, but being an architect, I understand the importance of planning rules and regulations, especially in areas with historic buildings. The modern building does not belong, and should not have been allowed.

Click to rate     Rating   8

Only in the UK would people actually WANT the Government to continue to have total control over what they can do to their own homes. Whatever happened to the idea of an 'Englishman's castle...' and the concept of a bit of freedom. I cannot see the situation be any worse than the eyesores that have been permitted by local councils up and down the country.

Click to rate     Rating   2

Now then, Prince Charles, this IS a carbuncle. Where are you when we need you?

Click to rate     Rating   3

Looks a helluva lot more attractive than the adjacent houses. Shame they can't do anything about them.

Click to rate     Rating   5

Funnily enough, this design had been rejected by Haringey, but the Planning Inspectorate agreed to an appeal by Mr Russum. The Inspectorate obviously has more bizarre tastes than imagined.

Click to rate     Rating   7

Last time I visited London I couldnt find anyone to get directions, no one spoke English, the newspaper stand, Romanian, The road sweeper in his HI-VIZ, nope, Polish, not a word, even at Bond Street Tube station, the girl from Ghana laughed at me and babbled something inaudible to me.. I think Swahili, .. Anyway... I got there in the end..

Click to rate     Rating   7

I've already ordered the 30' extension. That's 60 bunkbeds at £50pw x 2 shifts tax free - nice little earner. Multumesc Mr Cameron din toate in Romania.

Click to rate     Rating   8

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