Giant robot mural sparks row but council says it doesn't need planning permission

The side of a house painted in rainbow colours and a pink robot
Toby Garratt has painted the side of his house in rainbow colours and with a robot mural which some neighbours have claimed will reduce their property's value (Image credit: Toby Garratt)

A row has erupted over brightly-painted murals on the side of a house, with one neighbour claiming the “dreadful” art could lower house prices in the area.

Artist Toby Garratt's, 41, home in Sedbury, Gloucestershire, is well-known among locals for its striking designs.

But some neighbours have called the paintings “basic” and “childish” and claims the paintings should require planning permission.

Homeowner used multi-colours and geometric designs

Toby Garratt decided to paint the side of his house with multicolour squares and a flying pink robot.

Similar geometric designs and alternate renditions of the retro-style robot also appear on walls and the garage.

Garratt’s garden is filled with art and once boasted a greenhouse based on the design famous Gherkin from London’s skyline before it was forced to be taken down by the council.

The wall of a house painted with a robot and a honeycomb structured purple wall

Some neighbours have claimed the paintings will reduce the value of their property, but Garratt claims most people like the artwork (Image credit: Toby Garratt)

Neighbours call the artwork 'dreadful'

David Nichol, whose mother lives opposite the house, told The Sun Online: "It's not very well-liked. It's a bit of a snowball situation... I think he's trying to prove a point but it's to the disadvantage of the neighbours."

"People are worried about the price of their houses. I'm not against art but it looks dreadful."

Garrett told Homebuilding & Renovating that he recently returned home from work to find his tyres slashed, which cost £94 to repair, and says he is being “harassed” by angry locals.

He also claimed most people have said they like the paintings and structures.

A garden shed painted with a purple wave and a yellow robot holding up a globe

The robot murals also extend to this piece in the garden which is not yet finished, although neighbours have complained about this as well (Image credit: Toby Garratt)

Council say paintings allowed to stay

The artist says many locals love his work but the local council said art is allowed without gaining planning permission.

Garratt says the council told him painting a wall is allowed without needing planning permission as the house is not in a conservation area.

A Forest of Dean spokesperson explained to Homebuilding & Renovating: “The painting of a house is not classified as development and permission is not required to paint a property, unless it is within a Conservation area or a Listed Building. The mural at the property does not fall within the definition of an advert and therefore planning permission was not required.

“We are aware of the neighbour dispute regarding the property in Buttington Road, Sedbury and are investigating this. As this investigation is ongoing we will not be making any further comment at this time.”

However, he was told the structures in the garden have to be removed. He said: "I phoned the council and was told art is not allowed without planning permission and I have to take it down within two weeks. I make art to make people happy. I'm sorry it doesn't make everyone smile."

Officials also insisted that the structures "impact on the visual amenity" of the village and a letter from a Forest of Dean Council planning enforcement officer read: "I have discussed with my supervisor and he agrees with my decision that we would not encourage an application to keep the structures as it is highly unlikely to be supported and is a waste of your money applying.”

Sam Webb

Sam is based in Coventry and has been a news reporter for nearly 20 years. His work has featured in the Mirror, The Sun, MailOnline, the Independent, and news outlets throughout the world.  As a copywriter, he has written for clients as diverse as Saint-Gobain, Michelin, Halfords Autocentre, Great British Heating, and Irwin Industrial Tools. During the pandemic, he converted a van into a mini-camper and is currently planning to convert his shed into an office and Star Wars shrine.