A woman who painted her Kensington townhouse in candy stripes has to wait till next year to know if she will have to restore it back to its original colour after the council ordered her to do so. Zipporah Lisle-Mainwaring, 71, had been accused by neighbours in the affluent enclave in South End of trying to “get her own back” after failing to win planning permission for a mega basement construction. Her previous appeal for the redevelopment had been thrown out after the council brought in stringent rules for basement makeovers in the borough.
Hammersmith Magistrates Court heard the red stripes had been painted on to the house on March 2 this year in “about five-and-a-half hours”. Giving evidence Ms Lisle-Mainwaring claimed the planning order forcing her to repaint the house was “a response by the council to a press campaign”. Andrew Parkinson, representing the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, disagreed saying: ‘There is nothing at all to suggest that the press campaign played any part in the council’s actions.”
He added: ‘The council would have taken action even if the story had never made it to press.” He continued: “Much of the charm and character of the buildings comes from the limited pallet of colours, in particular the majority of houses are white.”
But Peter Dixon, representing Ms Lisle-Mainwaring, argued that the condition of the property did not necessarily relate to the red and white stripes. He countered: “If I rang up Mr Parkinson and asked him what condition his car is in, the normal answer of that would not be that it’s blue.
“But the answer to the question of what condition it’s in isn’t to tell me what colour it is.” He also claimed that maintaining the condition of the house was not the same thing as the “local authority imposing its aesthetic preferences”.
Mr Dixon continued: “In Kensington Square there can be found a wide variety of colours, including a candy pink house, which was the home of the great John Stuart Mill.”
David Wright, a senior planning enforcement officer who drafted a report on the house, said the council was contacted by a “large number of people” after a story about the house being painted in stripes appeared in the press.
Giving evidence, Ms Lisle-Mainwaring said: “It has been a matter of great discussion in the press as to whether it was red on white or white on red, in fact it is red striped on the original white.”
Ms Lisle-Mainwaring, who had been given until July 4 to repaint the house but appealed the council decision in June, also claimed the matter was between her and the council, although an undisclosed neighbour had ‘waded in’ to the dispute.
She said: “I have had a neighbour who has certainly waded in as if they are St George on the dragon; perhaps the dragon rather than St George.”
Mrs Lisle-Mainwaring, who divides her time between the UK and Switzerland bought the townhouse in 2012. It had previously been designated as office space but she had it changed into a storage premises.
A judgement is expected next January.