GRAYSHOTT sub-postmaster Noel Reidy has found himself embroiled in a two-year planning dispute about the style of cladding he installed on a flank wall.

Mr Reidy has run the branch for 14 years, with the threat of closure hanging over it until four years ago when he signed contracts with the Post Office to secure its future on the basis of a £30,000 refit and a 20 per cent increase in opening hours – all at his own cost.

He said: “With our refit complete and our future reasonably assured we needed to improve the external parts of our property in a secure, sustainable and energy-efficient manner.

“We selected Cedral weather boarding as it fitted the above criteria and harmonises with the conservation area church and pub which also have cladding, but ours is cement based, as was the render.

“Pets Corner, in a far more prominent place in the conservation area, have recently opened a new branch with external cladding, but I am informed by East Hampshire District Council (EHDC) that is allowable.

“We applied for pre-planning advice from EHDC but received an ambiguous informal response which did not assist us at all.

“We proceeded on the basis that we are replacing old poor-quality render with a high-quality, modern external wall insulation, albeit pre-formed render weather boards, but like for like.”

Grayshott Parish Council is among those objecting to the restrospective planning application on the grounds traditional materials should have been used for a prominent wall within the conservation area.

One objector, responding online, wrote: “This type of cladding is a perfectly good material to use in the appropriate circumstances, but in this instance it has been applied to a building that is part of the history of Grayshott, which is the very reason why it is within the conservation area.”