Thatched roof approved in area with history of horror fires

Planning permission was granted for a new thatched roof, despite requests from a neighbor not to do so.

Arun County Council has granted planning permission for a new first floor thatched extension at 102 Middleton Road, Middleton-on-Sea.

The property suffered a major fire in 2011 and the neighbor at number 104 says he “still has nightmares”.

The application was submitted for a decision by the ADC planning committee on Wednesday (July 20).

It is a resubmission of an earlier plan for a thatched roof at the same address, which was withdrawn due to fire safety concerns.

READ MORE: Firefighters set fire to the thatched roof of a house in Felpham

Council officials said the thatched roof was “distinctive and full of character,” adding that it would conform to the village’s design guide.

But the neighbor, Bob Hawkes, disagreed with the plans.

“The memory of the August 28, 2011 straw fire at 102 Middleton Road that destroyed the home still haunts me [my wife and I],” he said.

“I still have nightmares when I climb down from a step ladder on my property onto the existing flat roof extension to put out the fire with my garden hose before the fire department arrives.”

Mr Hawkes fears a new thatched roof could put his and his wife’s lives at risk.

“The first application that was withdrawn is for a fully thatched roof, the eaves of which would have been less than a meter from our frame house,” he said.

“The current application merely inserted tiles along the bottom edge of the thatched roof, which we believe does not eliminate the risk of a fire spreading to our property.”

Council officials said a five-foot strip of bricks along the eastern part of the roof and use of the “Dorset model” would be enough to stop the fire from spreading.

Independent councilwoman Shirley Haywood, who is also leader of Middleton on Sea council, said the council had received reassurance from a fire expert that the Dorset model was effective and therefore the council had not objected.

The committee’s deputy chairman, David Edwards (Con, Felpham), works as a fire safety adviser and said that while the Dorset Model is effective, it may not provide protection for Mr Hawkes’ property.

The planning application was approved subject to conditions.

Further details can be found on the Council’s planning portal, reference: M/29/22/HH.

Just last year, crews from Bognor, Littlehampton, Chichester, Worthing and others were called out to two serious thatched roof fires.

The first was in Felpham in May and the second in Middleton-on-Sea in August.

The West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service has since issued safety advice for homeowners with thatched roofs. Thatched roof approved in area with history of horror fires

Fry Electronics Team

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