An inspector has granted retrospective planning permission for a treehouse at a house in Hampshire after disagreeing with the council that it was a highly visible, obtrusive and incongruous feature.

Whether the treehouse was ‘highly visible’ rather than just ‘visible’ depended on the individual who was looking at the appeal property’s garden, the inspector mused. Some people passing the dwelling and its garden would see it whilst others would not, with the distinction between them depending on multiple factors including their exact position, whether they were looking straight ahead or around them, and whether or not they were actively observing their surroundings with any degree of interest.

The inspector, M Andrews, noted that the term ‘obtrusive’ is defined as ‘unpleasantly noticeable’ in the Collins dictionary. He considered that it might well be an apt description in the opinion of some who saw the structure. However, other passers-by might well regard the treehouse as an interesting feature and even welcome it as a reminder that children’s outdoor play still exists in an age when many are obsessed with computer games, tablets and smartphones. Many others, the majority, he suspected, would see the treehouse but have no particular interest and opinion on it one way or the other.

The inspector understood why the term ‘incongruous’ had been used, but asked where else would a treehouse for children’s play normally be positioned other than in a tree in the garden of a house?

The inspector held that the appeal application related to a well-designed and skilfully constructed treehouse that was a development of a good quality, and concluded that it was not harmful to the character and appearance of the street scene.

26 October 2018