The prosecution of a couple who converted their garage into a dwelling without permission is a salutary lesson to anyone contemplating home improvement.
Dr Reeta Herzallah and Hamdi Almasri installed fences and even a false garage door to hide the conversion in Enderby, Leicestershire, but have been ordered to restore the garage to its original use after unsuccessfully applying for retrospective planning permission.
Mark Turner, a solicitor with our Town and Country Planning team, has this advice for would-be extenders:
The prosecution by Leicester City Council highlights the importance of having the correct permission in place before starting any work to your home.
As well as failing to have planning permission for the conversion, fences they had installed prevented off street parking, which also meant that the pair were in breach of a planning condition attached to their property requiring car parking facilities to be permanently available to ease parking issues. They also created a vehicle access onto a dual carriageway without permission.
After planning officers became aware of the work, the couple submitted a retrospective application, which was refused. A subsequent appeal against that refusal also failed.
Dr Herzallah and Mr Almasri did undertake some remedial works but failed to restore the garage to its original use. They also propped a false garage door against the building to give the impression that the works had been done. After a visit to the property in November 2017 confirmed the required works had not been undertaken, the council went ahead with a prosecution.
The couple were fined £770 and required to pay legal costs of £1,252, and a £77 victim surcharge. They must now restore the garage to its original use.
The case highlights that councils will deal strictly with breaches of planning control, and that there can be serious consequences for failing to comply once enforcement action is taken.
When an enforcement notice is served by a council, there is a right of appeal against it, but there is a very short time frame within which to lodge an appeal, so seeking early advice is crucial.
The Planning Team at FBC Manby Bowdler has a wealth of experience in advising on enforcement issues, including when councils issue Breach of Condition andEnforcement Notices.
* Mark specialises in a variety of matters including planning applications, appeals, hearings and inquiries, matters involving heritage assets, compulsory purchases and judicial reviews, and section 106 agreements.
For further advice, contact Mark on 01952 208412 or firstname.lastname@example.org