1. Changes in External Appearance
The purpose of this guidance note is to assist owners of houses at Port Solent, who may be considering building extensions or making other changes to the external appearance of their house, by setting out the policy and factors taken into account by the Board of POSOL when it exercises its responsibility to implement the following covenant.
SCHEDULE IV para 2(a) or para 2.1, depending on the version of the Deed of Transfer: “Not at any time to erect or suffer to be erected any buildings walls or fences or other structures (save for any existing screen walls or fences and future replacements thereof) or to grow or permit to grow any hedge on the open area.”
SCHEDULE IV para 2(b) or para 2.2 states: “Without prejudice to para 2(a), or 2.1, of this schedule not without the prior written consent of the Company (POSOL) to make or suffer to be made any alteration or addition to the external appearance of the premises or to erect or suffer to be erected any additional buildings walls fences or other structures of any nature whatsoever on the premises”.
The residential units were designed, as a whole, in terraces with differences in storey height, materials, road layout, car parking arrangements, landscaping and basin size and shape – all to create a visually harmonious but consistent appearance. Consideration was given by the developers to optimising privacy for the houses around the marina basins but allowing an open aspect to be enjoyed by all.
The POSOL directors’ view is that the majority of residents enjoy Port Solent for these very qualities and do not want the character or value of their property to be jeopardized by inappropriate or unmanaged development.
To assist the directors (owners of properties themselves) in making decisions on requests for changes to external appearance, advice is taken from interested volunteer residents – the Covenants Working Group (CWG). Any resident is welcome to join the working group. Only the elected directors of Posol, however, make final decisions.
2. General Advice
Start by asking the POSOL Management Company for advice via its Managing Agent. If you have sketch plans of your proposal, please send them in with your request. We recommend that you don’t initially have full architectural plans prepared or seek Planning or Building Regulations Approval until the CWG has had a chance to consider your ideas and, perhaps, make a few recommendations or suggestions for change. Do please allow sufficient time for your request to be considered. Members of the CWG and POSOL directors are all unpaid volunteers who give their time because they care about sustaining Port Solent’s precious marina village lifestyle but they also have other demands on their time.
The Board meets monthly and the CWG meet one week before the Board meeting.
POSOL and the CWG welcome and wish to encourage owners who want to improve their properties. Such improvements, so long as they are in keeping with the original design concept of the housing development, raise the profile of the whole site and tend to raise property values generally.
3. Frequently Proposed Changes
The most frequent applications for change of appearance received by POSOL for approval are the following:
3.1 Two Storey Loft Conversions
These have proved to very popular, inspired originally by the development on Bryher Island. POSOL will in all probability approve these applications provided ‘Velux’ or similar roof lights are used. In most cases, sufficient headroom can be provided without the need to fit dormer windows but these can be approved, provided they are have a gable roof, are fitted with obscure glass lights and any opening lights are at the top and hinged horizontally.
3.2 Three Storey Loft Conversions
These also will in all probability be approved by POSOL but care has to be taken that the aspect from higher windows does not invade other residents’ privacy. Similar conditions apply as for two-storey loft conversions. Applicants should also note that some of the houses are constructed with higher roofs, which can obviate the need for a dormer to provide staircase headroom. There are examples on the estate where the dormer has proved to be unnecessary because the staircase to the new fourth floor has been located in the existing third floor small bedroom.
Applications are generally received for houses away from waterfront locations with sheltered secluded gardens. As above, POSOL generally would in all probability approve such an application. POSOL will not approve conservatories on the waterside elevation of a house.
3.4 Extensions on Water Side of Properites
Although the requirement for POSOL’s approval of any change to the external appearance of properties is totally independent of planning decisions by Portsmouth CC the company does concur with the Council’s prohibition of building forward of the building line to the front of the property. Port Solent is unique in that the waterfront is equally (or more) important. POSOL will not approve the construction of any extension that is closer to the waterfront than the building line established by the original developer. For the avoidance of doubt the edge of the balcony is considered to be the limit of the original building.
An advice note has already been issued. In essence it is considered that the deck should not project, at ground floor level, further than the external wing walls in order that the privacy of the immediate neighbours is protected. In addition, it should be noted that the wooden deck generates noise under foot which can cause nuisance and may provide a refuge for vermin if not properly sealed.
3.6 Carport gates
Provided that the gates are constructed of wrought iron, painted black and are vertically hinged, the Board will normally approve this form of development unless it affects the provision of car parking within the property. There are many good examples around the estate. Some owners have attached plastic or glass sheeting to their black metal gates. This has provided some security and thermal advantages but from a visual point of view it has been found that thin acrylic sheeting suffers from significant colour changes, becomes very brittle and distorts giving the carport a very poor appearance. Thick polycarbonate is a better solution but POSOL recommends the use of toughened glass fixed to the inside of the gate thus ensuring a standard appearance.
3.7 Car Parking
Allocation of car parking per house was calculated on the strict planning guidelines, as they were then enforced in 1986 when the site was designed. The Directors are not minded to give approval for any other use of carports, by applications to create total internal enclosed spaces. The directors are also anxious to protect the landscaped areas and will not give approval to increase car parking spaces by elimination of landscaping.
3.8 Conversion of Car Ports into Rooms.
See POSOL document “Conversion of Car Ports and Integral Garages into Habitable Accommodation”.
3.9 Replacement or Installation of Additional Windows.
The golden rule for the replacement of windows is to change like for like so that the replacement windows look the same as before with the same colour to comply with the covenants. Some shareholders have made changes to existing windows by increasing their size, by installing Juliet windows or changing sliding glass doors to bi-fold style doors. POSOL has generally agreed to these changes subject to them blending in with other windows in the vicinity.
The main issue with regard to windows from an appearance point of view is where the next-door neighbours install additional or different windows leaving properties out of balance. See diagram below:
POSOL always hopes that shareholders will coordinate with their neighbours simply for reasons of symmetry and better appearance.
3.10 Replacement of Balcony Balustrades
A balcony out of step with its neighbours will destroy the architectural cohesion of the estate. See POSOL document “Port Solent Balcony Guide”.
3.11 External Redecoration
See POSOL document “External Redecoration of Properties – Paint Colour guide”,
POSOL document “External Redecoration of Properties – Report by C Brewer & Sons” which advises on the type of paint suitable for each type of render
Retractable awning made of flexible cloth may be installed without Posol’s permission.
Permission is required for any permanent awning. Permission will only be given for permanent awnings that are cantilevered out from the wall, which extend no more than one metre, and have a glass roof. The colour of the framework to be consistent with the woodwork colour specified for the area. No vertical supports will be accepted.
3.13 Solar Panels
Experience with existing solar panels is that large numbers of birds nest in the space between the panels and the roof tiles. All new panels need to have barriers in place to keep the birds out. Without this barrier cars in the immediate vicinity are the victims of extreme droppings.
3.14 Charging Points for Electric Cars
These are generally obtrusive and unsightly. where possible they should be located inside the car port rather than in full view of the road.
4. Frequently Asked Questions
I own my house; it’s freehold, so why do I have to ask permission to change it?
When you signed the tripartite contract to purchase your house you agreed to be bound by the Covenants contained in that contract. Your solicitor should have brought these to your attention. POSOL has a legal duty of care to uphold these covenants to protect all shareholders who bought their houses with the comfort of the protection that these covenants provide.
I’ve got Planning Approval to change my house so why do I need POSOL’s approval?
Portsmouth City Council Planning Department bases its judgments on specific planning criteria such as whether the land is zoned for commercial, industrial or housing use. Town planning policies change from time to time. Planners disregard the covenants as these are normally outside their direct control and may also be unknown to them. In signing your purchase documents you agreed to accept the POSOL covenants which are in addition to the local planning requirements.
I don’t need Planning Approval, I’ve checked with Portsmouth City Council and I have Building Control approval. Do I still need to contact POSOL?
If the proposed work involves any change in the external appearance of the property, for example roof lights, POSOL’s approval is required as you agreed when you signed the tripartite contract.
POSOL has refused my application but all my neighbours think it’s a great idea. Isn’t that good enough for POSOL?
Neighbours mainly want to be agreeable and their judgment can be affected by their relationship with you. Although the views of neighbours are important and it is courteous to consult with them, they were not parties to the tripartite contract that you signed and POSOL’s approval is still required.
Have I any right of appeal if my application by POSOL is refused?
The transfer documents give no right of appeal or right to arbitration. If you are not content with a POSOL refusal then you can appeal to a panel that POSOL will convene for the purpose. This panel will comprise the Chairman of the Board of Directors, and two other people. At least one person on this panel will be independent of the Board, and will be nominated by the Royal Institute of British Architects.
If after your appeal has been heard you are still not satisfied you may apply to the Courts to have the decision over-ruled on the grounds of its unreasonableness. Note that the entire application procedure from the preliminary application form onwards is designed as an aid to constructive dialogue as the Board has every wish to be as reasonable as possible.
If POSOL rejects my application what happens if I go ahead anyway?
POSOL has the legal power to serve you with an injunction to prevent you proceeding, or requiring you to reinstate the property to its former condition if you have commenced work. At a future date when you come to sell your property POSOL’s approval is required, as the Land Registry will not transfer the property to the new owners without POSOL’s agreement. Under current legislation you are also obliged to tell any prospective purchaser about any disputes that affect your property, and this may affect the prospects for sale or the value.
… & Finally
Shareholders will appreciate that it has taken several years to develop a coherent policy. Unapproved developments have taken place in the past, which have alerted the directors to the need for vigilance to preserve the integrity of the site. In issuing this policy and the associated guidance and procedures the Board wishes to draw a line under the past. Each new application for development that affects the external appearance of a property will be considered on its merits in accordance with this policy. Previous precedents will not bind the Board. Accepting however that not all shareholders will agree with the policy and procedure as outlined above the directors will always be willing to meet and discuss any submitted proposals.