We have to tear down our £3k extension in just WEEKS after losing our battle with the council – it's ridiculous | The Sun

We have to tear down our £3k extension in just WEEKS after losing our battle with the council – it's ridiculous | The Sun

06/24/2022

A COUPLE who built an extension in their garden will have to tear it down after losing a battle with the council.

James Bevis and his partner Louise spent £3,000 constructing their extension four year ago with no objections from neighbours in Dalkeith, Scotland.


They had built the garage and sunroom to give their twin teenage daughters more space to spend time with friends.

But they were left stunned when Midlothian Council refused to grant them retrospective planning permission and ordered them to remove the building and materials from the garden.

Decking which the couple also installed in the garden, which extends to the front of the property, was earlier granted planning permission.

An enforcement notice threatened them with a £50,000 fine if they did not comply and said if the building was allowed to remain it would 'undermine' public confidence in planning policy.

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No complaints had been made by neighbours and two letters of support for the couple had been submitted.

The couple appealed the decision to the Scottish Government who have now upheld the council ruling.

They now have until August 23 to knock down the garage and sunroom.

Speaking earlier, James, 52, who is a joiner to trade, said: "We read the planning rules and did not think it needed planning permission so were surprised when we were told we needed to apply, but all the advice we were given suggested it would be okay.

"We held our hands up to the mistake but when the planning officer came out it was clear she was not happy with anything we had done.

"She even accused us of thinking because we had bought an ex-council house we could do what we wanted.

Have you had a similar experience? Email sarah.grealish@the-sun.co.uk

"All our neighbours are supportive and can't believe the actions of the council, there are plenty of other houses around with extensions which are also forward of the houses but they all seem to be fine."

Louise, 44, added: "The enforcement notice was really intimidating telling us we could be fined up to £50,000. It is frightening and we feel we are being victimised.

What are your rights?

When it comes to a neighbour's extension or building works, there are a few common causes of discord.

Overstepping property boundaries is a common problem, and it's important to check where the boundary lies to see whose land the works are taking place on.

You can buy these for as little as £3 from Land Registry.

Meanwhile, the Party Wall Act 1996 is a piece of legislation designed to prevent and resolve disputes between neighbours over building or digging work that affects a party wall. 

Tom Edwards, partner in property disputes at LCF Law, said works within six metres of an adjoining home could fall within the act, which means neighbours must be given written notice.

He said: "Owners can also acquire rights to light over time. If you’ve had the benefit of natural light to your property for 20 years or more, even if it’s not in your deeds, it can become your legal right.”  

"We are really hoping common sense prevails here and the Scottish Government reporter will see this is not anything other than an improvement to the garden."

In their enforcement notice, Midlothian Council said: "Its continuing presence on the land is in conflict with the democratic, planning, decision making process and would thereby undermine the credibility of the planning system and public trust in its outcomes."

The council added the Covid-19 pandemic had caused delays in them reaching a conclusion in the case which has been running since 2019.

In a written ruling, government reporter Euan McLaughlin said: "I note that the appellant has previously submitted a planning application for the unauthorised building which has been refused by the council.

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"The enforcement notice sets out the steps required to be undertaken to remedy this breach, which is effectively to restore the land to its condition before the breach took place.

"In my view these steps are not excessive and there are no less onerous steps which would remedy the breach of control."

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