Design: Rose cottage, the Shabby Palace, FINALLY takes centre stage

Rose Cottage pre-listing, maybe 1960's?

My god, anyone would think that we’d proposed changes to Manchester Town Hall, the length of time it’s taken to get a final agreement from the Listed Building department, maybe lopping a handful of gargoyles off or popping a glass extension on the Albert Square frontage. Instead, all we want to do is restore a gorgeous little Georgian cottage, hidden in the heart of Fallowfield, bastardised over many years and neglected by the very same department who’ve made life really rather tough for the cottage’s owner this last five months.

Rose Cottage as it is now, with plastic windows, the upvc bathroom window to the centre first floor, and soil / waste pipes from the bathroom slap down the centre of the house. Can do the same angle as above a a large concrete wall has replaced the small wooden fence!

I understand the process, the ‘rules’, but when the ceiling purlins and the chimney are almost collapsing, how hard can it be to give the go ahead on these essential works instead of a ‘comprehensive PPG15 statement’ being drafted, written, corrected, reviewed, vetted and approved? And then give misleading guidance and drag things out so the owner has to pay an extra 5 month mortgage payments, eating further into funds on top of the extra work. Why didn’t the listed building people at the council know that over the previous 30 years such changes had occurred to this building under their remit? If the windows to most of the other cottages in the row have been changed to upvc, why suddenly now insist this owner replaces with timber, yet not address any of the others?

Lesson learnt for future clients (if I see a listed building pre-purchase) : always get the listed building team in your area out before you have exchanged and agreed a price, to ensure the current owner hasn’t bypassed the rules and done works they weren’t allowed to do. Once the LB team have seen the property, it’s the property owner’s obligation to pay for works required, so as a buyer you are in a great bargaining position. Unfortunately here the client only got the LB team in after she’d bought, so the financial ball was by then firmly bouncing in her court.

It’s taken so much longer than it should have done, and of course, that doesn’t cost the council employees a penny, so they’re in no rush. We’re not talking multi-millionaire property developers here either, my client is just a girl who fell in love with an unloved cottage and wanted to make it perfect again. I can see why people say avoid listed buildings like the plague, it’s not the buildings which are the problem, it’s the bureaucrats controlling them. The system is bonkers, it should be encouraging people to take on such projects, not putting every obstacle in their way!

Aaaanyway, the permission came in at the beginning of this week. We can stop the chimney and roof collapsing and killing anyone by putting in some steel beams, we can strap the front elevation back to the internal walls to stop it ending up in the garden, we can install a damp proof course to put and end to the relentless moisture, we can rip out the hideousness of the interior and start again, and we can install new bespoke timber windows which will look a million times better than the upvc but have upped the financial ante. Yes, I know, aren’t these things in the best interest of the house and shouldn’t it have taken about seven minutes to agree them? Don’t be silly, that would be sensible.

I’ve been far too busy blogging about lunatic tenants this week to give Rose Cottage her rightful attention, but that all changes now, and the Shabby Palace is going to take centre stage for a few weeks……

This link gives you some of the pictures I took of the horrendous original interior –https://moregeous.wordpress.com/2009/08/17/poor-rose-cottage/

Some scary pictures of steel going in and toppling chimneys to follow, I love this bit!!

I think the tenant traumas are over for this week, a few new people in and out over the next month or so, always interesting, getting to know them. Had a great night at the Virgin gym the other night with the inimitable John Thomson compering for the Genesis Appeal. It doubled up as a celebration 8yrs to the night me & my other half met. Doesn’t time fly when you are working your nuts off.

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