Homeowner wins thatched roof planning battle, despite council's odd request

A man thatching a roof
Bob Parks overturned a bizarre council request that asked him to replace his thatched roofing with tiles, but only after he installed new thatch on his roof (Image credit: Getty Images)

A homeowner received a bizarre request from his local council after they said he could only replace his thatched roofing from his home, after he replaced it first.

Bob Parks requested to replace the thatched roofing with tiles for his home in Irstead, situated on the bank of the River Ant. He made this request after completing an extension to his thatched cottage because he couldn't find a thatcher to do the work.

However, North Norfolk District Council refused planning permission for the change and told him he could only remove the thatched roofing if he replaced it first, a decision Mr Parks appealed and overturned.

Why did homeowner want to replace the thatch roof?

The planning battle began when Mr Parks sought to build an extension to 'Shoals Cottage' and change the roofing materials.

Mr Parks was granted permission to extend the thatched cottage in 2022, under the proviso that the extension be thatched as well.

He initially agreed to this but then found the building material prices to be too much and saw a shortage of available materials and available skilled workmen, so asked if he could change the roof of the entire property to tiles.

Mr Parks stated: “We tried as best we could to engage a thatcher, but the waiting list was about three years and Norfolk reed is in high demand.”

Council make bizarre thatch installation request

North Norfolk District Council refused this planning permission request stating the extension must be thatched, but that once it was thatched he could then remove it and install tiles.

The council stated in September 2022: “The works are under way, and the extension has been partially built.  

“It is noted that permitted development rights do exist at the property, however the roof of the proposed extension would need to be completed in thatch and then replaced with tiles in order to benefit from this.

“The replacement of the thatch in this case would be detrimental to the character of the area and the appearance of the property.”

Norfolk Wherry sails past riverside houses in Norfolk Broads

'Shoals Cottage' is based in Irstead, on the bank of the River Ant near Barton Broad (Image credit: Getty Images)

Thatched roofing ruled to be 'of very little, if any, value'

Baffled by the decision Mr Parks went to the Planning Inspectorate to overturn the council's decision.

Mr Parks stated: “The Broads Authority wants to save thatched homes where they can, but homeowners do have the right to change the roof if they are not listed. 

“Even after we had tiled the old roof the Broads Authority said we had to thatch, that’s where it got bureaucratic, they acknowledged it could be tiled eventually but still wanted it thatched.”  

It was ruled by the Planning Inspectorate after the appeal that: “A thatched roof on the extension would appear incongruous and would not integrate with the host dwelling as it now appears.

“In light of the change to the roof of the host dwelling, a thatched roof on the extension would be of very little, if any, value in demonstrating the cultural heritage of the Broads.”

He eventually won the appeal in December 2023 meaning he could keep the tiled roofing, which he had by this time already installed.

Joseph Mullane
News Editor

News Editor Joseph has previously written for Today’s Media and Chambers & Partners, focusing on news for conveyancers and industry professionals.  Joseph has just started his own self build project, building his own home on his family’s farm with planning permission for a timber frame, three-bedroom house in a one-acre field. The foundation work has already begun and he hopes to have the home built in the next year. Prior to this he renovated his family's home as well as doing several DIY projects, including installing a shower, building sheds, and livestock fences and shelters for the farm’s animals. Outside of homebuilding, Joseph loves rugby and has written for Rugby World, the world’s largest rugby magazine.