Disgruntled Londoner has revenge on neighbours who objected to her basement extension by painting her house in bright stripes

What it's like to open the curtains every morning to a scene from midway through an episode of Grand Designs

Gillian Orr@gillian_orr
Wednesday 15 April 2015 12:14
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A red and white striped house in South End, Kensington, London, which was apparently painted by the owner in protest at a planning application being turned down on improvements to the property
A red and white striped house in South End, Kensington, London, which was apparently painted by the owner in protest at a planning application being turned down on improvements to the property

It can be found on a street in Kensington called South End, but the candy-cane- striped property might be more at home in Southend on Sea. The £15m townhouse in one of London’s most exclusive areas was transformed this week from a plain white building into a home that only the most dedicated Sunderland FC fan would appreciate.

Following a dispute, after neighbours objected to plans Zipporah Lisle-Mainwaring had to build a three-storey super basement that included a pool, it is thought that the owner decorated the front in a bid to piss off the local residents, one of whom called the house an “eyesore seaside hut”.

Another suggested that the paint job was “totally inappropriate for the area”. However, according to the law, unless the property is listed, residents can paint their houses whatever colour they wish.

Located conveniently close to The Independent HQ, a quick sunny stroll down to the site on Tuesday lunchtime revealed that it’s causing quite the stir. Found on a small cobbled cul-de-sac, the paint job had attracted a bunch of American tourists who were amazed it could be found next to such classic and elegant designs.

And you can see why the residents might have objected to the planning permission request; the entire adjacent street is already covered in ugly scaffolding.

When you’ve forked out at least £10m to live somewhere, it might be a bit annoying to open the curtains every morning to a scene from midway through an episode of Grand Designs.

But Nick Carter, director of sales at Chestertons, an estate agent that deals with many houses in this lucrative area, doesn’t think nearby property prices will suffer.

“It won’t affect the value of houses in the street but it might put a few people off,” suggests Carter. “I’m confident the local council will get involved. They take something like this very seriously. It’s malicious really, isn’t it?”


He likens the move to another popular protest that homeowners in dispute with neighbours over planning permission like to do: put up scaffolding under the pretence that it is for painting or roofing and then leave it up for so long that, eventually, whoever objects to the plans just backs down in a bid to hurry the whole thing up.

There are some great renovation-as-revenge stories around; and Ms Lisle-Mainwaring is far from the first person to paint their house a garish colour to get back at councils and residents that have shot down their building plans.

In America, after the owners of a historic house in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, had their plans repeatedly rejected, they applied a luminous green and yellow gloss to the exterior. Another in Lubbock, Texas, went with purple smiley faces.

Neighbours aren’t always the enemy, though. When their request to change the front steps of their house in Avondale Estates, Georgia, was thrown out by local officials, one family painted the house green with purple spots. Homes nearby joined in until the mayor overruled the decision.

And one recent paint job that had a bit more of a purpose than simply sticking it to the town hall took place in Topeka, Kansas, in 2013. After finding out the house opposite the hate-preaching Westboro Baptist Church compound was for sale, charity worker Aaron Jackson bought it and turned it into a gay-rights centre, complete with the rainbow colours of the pride flag on the exterior, which made for a nice alternative to the posters shouting “Fag marriage dooms nations” that covered the church.

Last year, Brent Greer painted a different type of flag – Old Glory – on the front of his house in protest against city code enforcement fines in Bradenton, Florida.

So while Lisle-Mainwaring’s neighbours in Kensington might object to the house’s barbershop-pole colour scheme, they should just be thankful that she hasn’t yet resorted to smiley faces or an aggressive show of patriotism to make her point.

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