A couple could be forced to repaint their house again after the council described the colour of their newly painted property as "harmful" to the surrounding area.

Kate Codrington and her partner Ian Davis have been told by Watford Borough Council their retrospective planning application to repaint the front of their home has been refused.

In August 2020, the pair who live in Capel Road in Oxhey, hired a decorator to paint their cream property lilac.

The work was completed and the couple were enjoying living in their newly painted home - until the council found out about the job from a mystery complainant.

Kate and Ian say they learned from the council they needed to have secured planning permission first before painting the house and were told to submit a retrospective planning application.

Watford Observer: Kate and Ian's newly-painted property in Oxhey Kate and Ian's newly-painted property in Oxhey

Kate, a writer, says she was "severely shocked" to find out the application had been refused this month.

According to the council decision report, the officer described the lilac colour as "inappropriate to the period of the building which would have used stone like colours", adding other painted neighbouring properties in the street are "finished in mostly cream and off-white shades".

The officer added the lilac colour "harms the character and appearance" of the property and conservation area it sits in and said it was "unacceptable in terms of design".

Watford Observer: Picture shows house before and after it was painted. Credit: Watford Borough CouncilPicture shows house before and after it was painted. Credit: Watford Borough Council

Responding to the officer's comments, Kate said: "I have lived in this house since 2005 and this is just tedious. The council shouldn't be picking on house colours especially with all of the big ugly tower blocks in Watford. The council should be focusing on much bigger issues like foodbanks."

One of the key reasons the application was turned down was because it lies within a conservation area - which restricts work to properties which could normally be done without planning permission.

Kate and Ian have started a petition to abolish the conservation zone in Oxhey, which was introduced in 2013.

In their petition, they describe conservation areas as "unfair, costly and an undemocratic burden on those who live within them". It has received 143 signatures. But the idea of abolishing the status has been met with a mixed reaction from members of a local Facebook group, although the majority appear baffled by the council's refusal.

Watford Observer: Kate Codrington Kate Codrington

Explaining why she had her house repainted, Kate said: "It is life-enhancing and lifts hearts on a grey day. The world needs more joy and colour. The house had been shabby for two years and it showed dirt. We didn't know permission was needed and I wasn't aware about the conservation zone.

"We love living in Oxhey, it's a great neighbourhood but it's an architectural jumble and that's how we like it, so what exactly are we conserving?"

She added: "We don't know who complained. To live in a community as friendly and diverse as ours and for someone to be so spiteful to complain is disappointing.

"I was severely shocked to find out the application had been turned down. In my new book Second Spring, I explore the effects of mental health. I won't let small-minded moaners and council bureaucracy ruin my mental health but we are considering what action to take about this decision."

Watford Observer:

Ben Martin, head of planning and development at Watford Borough Council said: "Planning issues do range hugely in scale from the paint used on a house in a conservation area to large scale developments providing much needed homes for Watford families.

"However big or small the application, we carefully consider each and every one against the planning policies and guidance that apply to that specific project to get the right outcome for our community.

"Protecting the towns heritage remains a big issue for a number of residents.

"As with all applicants, the homeowners do have the right to appeal this decision.

"The council will continue to work positively with communities within Conservation Areas to ensure they are aware of the planning rules that apply to their homes and to provide clear guidance on what types of works would likely be permitted."