Owner in the pink over lilac listed cottage

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The Independent Online
It might have been seen as adding a little bit of local colour.

But conservationists and planners objected when retired computer designer Ted Braunholtz (pictured left) painted his Grade II listed house lilac.

Now Mr Braunholtz, 66, has won an appeal against the bureaucrats and been backed by Environment Secretary, John Gummer, in his choice of lilac grey for his pounds 300,000 home in Sherbourne, Dorset.

In a verdict which might bring belated comfort to Conservative MP Teresa Gorman, who also experienced planning difficulties over alterations to her Essex farmhouse, Mr Gummer ruled that the choice of colour for a house "is substantially a matter of personal taste".

The "elegant gothic revival" home lies at the heart of the Dorset town, where yellow stone is the distinctive hallmark of local buildings.

When Mr Braunholtz decided to paint the outside in lilac grey, with the details in pure lilac, the local community was horrified. Mr Jack Forrest, 71, a retired architect, who represents the Sherbourne Society, said: "We felt that painting this house lilac was not appropriate. I thought it was a bit garish. We objected to it."

Des Derrien, director of planning for West Dorset District Council, said the local authority accepted that the painting had been done in good faith. "It looked quite tasteful, there was no malice in the decision to paint it lilac."

However, lest any other locals should feel like giving free rein to psychedelic expressionism on the outsides of their homes, he added soberly: "I don't think this decision will set a precedent, I don't think there will be a free-for- all."

Indeed, English Heritage said the decision merely showed each case would have to be decided on its own facts and could not be regarded as a change in the law.

However, Mr Braunholtz's success is now being hailed as a victory by national campaigners, who claim it gives people the right to paint their homes whatever colour they wish.

He said: "Good sense has triumphed in the end. This has been the best entertainment I've had in two years. I'm not bitter, but I think some of the reaction has been a bit silly.

"As far as I'm concerned the lilac will last for another ten years. I thought this bit of the road needed to be made a bit more interesting."

He admitted there was some small opposition closer to home - from his wife, Barbara. "Sometimes she likes it, sometimes she doesn't."

Photograph by Phil Yeomans

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