About Me

South Oxfordshire, United Kingdom
We are the neighbours of the "Chilterns Water Mill" - featured on the episode of Grand Designs first broadcast on the 4th February 2009. We were asked to take part in the programme, but were strongly advised not to due to the extremely serious nature of allegations we have made against South Oxfordshire District Council - including improper conduct on the part of specific employees and councillors. The council is currently under investigation by the Local Government Ombudsman and the Standards Board for England. If anyone is serious about wanting to know details of the allegations or a fuller account of what has gone on - email me (from an address I can identify please) and we might talk further.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Local Government Ombudsman Adjudication

The Local Government Ombudsman has now issued her adjudication on our complaint. The finding is maladministration on the part of South Oxfordshire District Council. Watch this space for more info...

Monday, 14 September 2009

Ofcom Adjudication

Ofcom have now issued their adjudication on the Grand Designs programme. They have decided not to uphold our complaint. The full text of their adjudication can be found on page 48 of the current Ofcom Broadcast Bulletin. For those not inclined to wade through it all, they have decided in essence that:

1. The programme did not represent us unfairly
2. We had no right to privacy.

As you might imagine we do not agree! However, whilst the judgement on fairness flies in the face of the overwhelming evidence from viewers themselves, and Ofcom have managed to come perilously close to accusing the council of (additional) misconduct, we have decided not to expend further time challenging the decision.

The most worrying issue for the wider public is in Ofcom's decision on privacy. It appears to directly contradict rulings on similar cases by the Press Complaints Commission - showing a lack of "joined up" thinking amongst the various bodies charged with regulation of the media. Also, when you stop to consider the amount of information that might be described, no matter how obscurely, as being in "the public domain", this adjudication is truly disturbing.

Thanks to all those who have voted (whichever way!) in our polls, which are now closed.

The entirely separate matter of the investigation into the Council's conduct by the Local Government Ombudsman is still ongoing. More news on that when we have it.





Monday, 18 May 2009

Update

For those of you still coming back to see if anything is happening, we thought we would just add a brief note to let you know that we have not abandoned the matter! As well as the ongoing Ombudsman's investigation of the council's conduct, Ofcom are now investigating our complaint regarding the Grand Designs programme. At Ofcom's request, we can't at present say any more about this, but we will post an update when we are able to give more news. In the meantime, many thanks to all those that took the trouble to register complaints regarding the programme.

Monday, 2 March 2009

New Poll

It has been drawn to our attention that the wording of the "what would you have done"poll might be a little unfair in that it perhaps implied that the builder was entirely to blame. I can't edit the question - so I have closed that poll and started a new one which hopefully addresses that point.

Saturday, 28 February 2009

The bridge from inside our house

video

As I said below - the council now think this is entirely acceptable - do you agree?

Friday, 27 February 2009

Another photo


In case the photographs already posted have not convinced you - here is an additional one that gives a slightly wider context. Remember that the original planning permission (which was the one we were aware of when we bought the property) - stated that all the windows in the side facing our house would be "below the level of the adjoining property". This means of course that from where this photo is taken - you should barely be able to see the roof of the "Water Mill". Sorry for the quality - taken on a mobile phone today!

Photographs Reposted again

This photograph was taken from our garden. Before anyone asks - our house was pink when we moved in and...ermmm...we haven't got round to repainting it yet! To give some idea of scale, notice the fence you can see underneath the nice white uPVC door - it is six feet high! It's important to remember that the house is built at least 2.13 metres higher than its original permission allowed - i.e. the one he was in breach of. In actual fact, the blurb with that application specifically said that ALL the windows you see there would be BELOW the level of our house! One of the justifications given by the planning officer who approved it was that it would be built "at a much lower level than the adjoining property"....



This shot was taken from the woods above our house (where you saw Kevin walking at the beginning of the programme). Kind of speaks for itself really. Remember that blurb with the planning application I mentioned above?



The Bridge. He can see right into our house from it. Strange how the council seem to now think that is entirely OK.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Letter from an Architect

This message was received today by email, the sender having attempted to post as a comment but being unable for some reason. It was a response to our Planning Committee post of 22nd Feb (see below) and is reproduced here with permission:

Unfortunately, planning committee members make decisions every week based on political considerations and specifically on the protection and fast track of their careers, and often against the recommendations of the very planning officers their councils have employed to uphold the local Unitary Development Plans. Now the Government is introducing a "fast track" process for major schemes and infrastructure work, it seems almost pointless to try and protect ones own local environment. Some may applaud this as the end of "Nimbyism," others may see it as yet more erosion of our own rights.

In your case, this web site is indeed a revelation. As an architect I watched this episode thinking "Who are these Nimbys ruining this family's dreams?" Now I have seen your photos, I find the siting of the new "mill" abhorrent and fully understand your actions. CH 4's presentation left much to be desired here, and I now watch GD with far greater cynicism. I'm sorry that a fellow member of my profession did not realise the problems of the design and act accordingly.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Sources of other information

I am re-posting this info as it has got a little lost down the list. The owner of the Nemesis Republic blog has kindly collated links to some of the various forums where this is being discussed, together with some other links that might be quite an eye opener for anyone interested.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Photographs Reposted

This photograph was taken from our garden. Before anyone asks - our house was pink when we moved in and...ermmm...we haven't got round to repainting it yet! To give some idea of scale, notice the fence you can see underneath the nice white uPVC door - it is six feet high! It's important to remember that the house is built at least 2.13 metres higher than its original permission allowed - i.e. the one he was in breach of. In actual fact, the blurb with that application specifically said that ALL the windows you see there would be BELOW the level of our house! One of the justifications given by the planning officer who approved it was that it would be built "at a much lower level than the adjoining property"....



This shot was taken from the woods above our house (where you saw Kevin walking at the beginning of the programme). Kind of speaks for itself really. Remember that blurb with the planning application I mentioned above?



The Bridge. He can see right into our house from it. Strange how the council seem to now think that is entirely OK.

Planning Committees

As things are quiet at the moment pending various responses. I thought I might pose an open question:

The planning committee at South Oxfordshire District Council (and I assume all other local authorities) is made up of members whose political persuasion reflects the balance of power at the council.

Given that it is specifically unlawful for planning decisions to be made based on political considerations - what is the justification for this?

I would be genuinely interested in a response from anyone in a position to explain...

Thursday, 19 February 2009

When We Alerted the Council

We just want to clear up one point that seems to keep coming up on the forums - we didn't leave it until the house was built to alert the Council - but rather complained immediately it became apparent there was a problem  - which was when the steel supporting structure had been built. The "unannounced" visit from the council didn't happen until over a month after our complaint - by which time Chris Ostwald had managed to get very nearly all his timberwork up!

Needless to say, this point is covered in our complaint to Grand Designs...

Monday, 16 February 2009

Complaint update

As a result of a request from the producers of Grand Designs, we have now submitted a full complaint to both Talkback Thames and Channel Four. We understand that they wish to resolve the matter amicably. We sincerely hope that this is so.

For those following the comments on the Grand Designs page, you might notice that the latest post from Chris Ostwald has now been removed. This is a good start Channel Four, however we notice that offensive remarks toward us are still present...

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Photographs reposted

This photograph was taken from our garden. Before anyone asks - our house was pink when we moved in and...ermmm...we haven't got round to repainting it yet! To give some idea of scale, notice the fence you can see underneath the nice white uPVC door - it is six feet high! It's important to remember that the house is built at least 2.13 metres higher than its original permission allowed - i.e. the one he was in breach of. In actual fact, the blurb with that application specifically said that ALL the windows you see there would be BELOW the level of our house! One of the justifications given by the planning officer who approved it was that it would be built "at a much lower level than the adjoining property"....



This shot was taken from the woods above our house (where you saw Kevin walking at the beginning of the programme). Kind of speaks for itself really. Remember that blurb with the planning application I mentioned above?



The Bridge. He can see right into our house from it. Strange how the council seem to now think that is entirely OK.

Thank You

Thank you for the overwhelming and ongoing support we have received since publishing this blog. If anyone feels particularly strongly - we have added the option for you to let it be known on the right of the page.




Wednesday, 11 February 2009

A Response at last!

Grand designs have now contacted us. It remains to be seen how they account for themselves...

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

NEWSFLASH Channel 4 censorship


Channel 4 have just chosen to delete this thread from the 4homes forum - it lasted all of ten minutes. I repeat - anything to say GD/CH4?

Monday, 9 February 2009

Other sources of info, Forum discussions etc.

There has been some lively debate in the forums. For a good source of collated info of where to find everything check out the Nemesis Republic blog.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

The Grand Designs Website

Interestingly enough, we have tried twice now to put a link to this blog in the comments on the Grand Designs site. For some reason it has not gone up, although later posts from others have - so we know the moderator is working. Anything to say GD/CH4?

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Photographs of the "Chilterns Water Mill" from our property

This photograph was taken from our garden. Before anyone asks - our house was pink when we moved in and...ermmm...we haven't got round to repainting it yet! To give some idea of scale, notice the fence you can see underneath the nice white uPVC door - it is six feet high! It's important to remember that the house is built at least 2.13 metres higher than its original permission allowed - i.e. the one he was in breach of. In actual fact, the blurb with that application specifically said that ALL the windows you see there would be BELOW the level of our house! One of the justifications given by the planning officer who approved it was that it would be built "at a much lower level than the adjoining property"....



This shot was taken from the woods above our house (where you saw Kevin walking at the beginning of the programme). Kind of speaks for itself really. Remember that blurb with the planning application I mentioned above?



The Bridge. He can see right into our house from it. Strange how the council seem to now think that is entirely OK.