Paul and Rachelle Horridge have until January to demolish the extension
A couple who built an “odd-looking” two-storey home extension without permission have been told it must be knocked down.
Paul and Rachelle Horridge have a few weeks to remove the extension, which includes a child’s bedroom.
Councillors heard they may have to demolish the whole structure, for which the pair tried to get retrospective permission without success.
A planning dispute over the unauthorised rear extension in Haslingden, Lancashire, has been running for some time.
Enforcement action first began one year ago and has since been extended, with the latest deadline being late January 2023, reports Lancs Live.
Rossendale councillors heard this week that the couple believed their builder would handle any planning issues required for an extension.
Now, the couple, who have children, face a “catastrophic” situation, it was said.
The two-storey extension is “too big”, has different widths between its floors, an “inappropriate” flat roof, and wooden cladding, planners said.
It also crosses the boundary into the neighbour’s land, and groundwork linked to the extension could also harm the roots of a protected tree in an adjoining park.
The rear extension has sparked concerns from neighbours, calls for its removal by enforcement officers, and has been seen by a national planning inspector, as Rossendale Council’s Development Control Committee heard this week.
Councillors heard about events and developments surrounding the extension stretching back two years.
Conservative Councillor Granville Morris asked the committee to look into it this month because he was concerned about the appearance of the upper floor.
A previous application seeking retrospective approval was refused in December 2021 on visual and neighbour amenity grounds.
An enforcement notice was issued on the same day requiring the extension to be removed and the land to be suitably restored.
The couple claimed they believed their builder would sort out the planning permission
The couple then lodged a combined appeal against the planning refusal and the enforcement notice at the end of December 2021.
A decision on that was given in May, 2022.
A national planning inspector dismissed the appeal and upheld the enforcement notice.
However the period to comply with the notice was extended from six to eight months.
This means that the unauthorised extension will currently need to be removed by January 24, 2023, council planning reports state.
Speaking at this week’s development meeting, James Dalgleish, a Rossendale Council planning officer, introduced the Horridge’s retrospective application.
They wanted planning permission to keep the two-storey extension with some changes using traditional rendering on the outside walls, instead of the current timber cladding, and add a pitched roof to replace the current flat roof.
Planning officers recommend the latest application be refused.
“Heartache and pain to neighbours”
A neighbour, Graham Lowthion, spoke against the latest application.
He said: “This has been turned down twice before by Rossendale Council and the council has been backed-up by a national planning inspector from Bristol.
“Everyone says it is out of character with other houses. Other houses in the area have single-storey kitchen extensions.
“Neighbours would have no problem if this was a single-storey extension.
“But this is a two-storey extension, which is now even higher with a pitched roof.
“I am totally against it. If this was passed, it would cause heartache and pain.
“It would also lead to other people putting up inappropriate extensions.
“We all want people to have nice houses but we also have to follow the rules.
“If we don’t, then we end up where we are today. Please refuse this application.”
Independent Coun James Eaton asked if Mr Lowthion would be happy with a single-storey extension and he replied yes.
A neighbour, Graham Lowthion, spoke against the latest application
“We were foolish”
Rachelle Horridge then spoke in favour of the retrospective application, submitted by her husband, Paul.
She was tearful as she said: “We find ourselves in this extremely stressful situation because we trusted a builder who said the extension did not need a planning application.
“He showed us a few examples of extensions including one nearby. We were within a few inches of regularity. I now see we were foolish.”
She added: “My husband is away for periods of time. We have a young family and one of our children was having problems with anxiety.
“The first-floor extension was for that child, so she didn’t need to share a bedroom which was contributing to her anxiety. “
Mrs Horridge said she and her husband had held talks with planning officers and an inspector to explore options.
The extension was only eight inches larger than what would typically be allowed, she said.
She said all the circumstances and the prospect of now having to demolish the extension were having a “catastrophic impact” and added: “We are terrified for our future.”
Regarding the issue of potential harm to a nearby tree, she said this had never been raised in the past.
Other neighbours had built back extensions which were similar distances to trees, she said.
Trees in the park run along their 90-ft long back garden boundary and cast shade. She was confident the trees were not harmed.
She added: “These objections are not reasonable. I sincerely ask that you put us out of this stress and misery by approving this.”
Labour Coun Jacqueline Oakes had some sympathy with the family’s position but asked if they were being asked to demolish the whole extension to make amends?
Mrs Horridge replied: “We were asked to demolish the whole extension. But we have gone back with a few different amendments to try to prevent that.”
Then Labour Coun Michelle Smith asked: “You say you took your builder’s word. Did you contact Rossendale Council to see if you needed planning permission?”
Plans for the extension
Mrs Horridge replied: “We employed someone to provide this, really. We are a busy family. We just wanted someone to do it. We were led by the builder.
“However, I had some conversations with a building control officer and have had to pay fees for the visits.”
Then Labour Coun Andy MacNae asked about different changes to the extension.
These included suggested amendments, which apparently could have made it acceptable, and other actual, physical changes that were made.
He said: “You were aware of an amendment that could have been made, to make the extension acceptable. If so, why did you choose not to make them?”
Mrs Horridge replied: “We tried to make it acceptable with a pitched roof and rendering. We understand that a flat roof or wooden cladding was not correct.”
“Proper scrutiny” welcomed
Labour Coun Samara Barnes, who is not on the development committee, spoke against the application.
She said: I have been contacted by neighbours who have considerable concerns about this. I would also like to thank councillor Granville Morris for calling this to the committee, so it can be given proper scrutiny.
“The specific concerns are that this extension has already been refused numerous times and there is enforcement action underway. I understand it was supposed to come down by January but it is still there.
“Neighbours are worried that some households may feel they can do whatever they think. This extension is encroaching on a neighbour.
“There is also concern that the ground floor is wider than the upper floor. It has an odd appearance and is not in keeping with the area.
“There are also worries because people thought this matter had been dealt with previously. Then there is the tree report.
“I think officers have made the right decision on this occasion and I hope councillors will support the advice for refusal.”
Independent Coun James Eaton asked council planning officers if they had any reaction to a planning inspector’s comments on issues such as daylight, overlooking, over-development and surface water draining onto a neighbour’s property at 270.
The inspector did not believe these were risks under the current propsals.
Head of planning Mike Atherton said: “In our view, the inspector does not make any particular views about the ground floor.
“He talks about the entire extension, saying it is prominent, the only two-storey extension in the area, its scale and being incongruous. “
Mr Atherton said the neighbour had a right to object and stop building on their side of the property.
He also said emails or letters proved the Horridges had been advised what changes would be needed for the extension to comply with permitted development.
(This are certain types of smaller extensions or changes which do not always need planning permission.)
Labour Coun Jackie Oakes asked for clarification about the way forward. Did only the top floor need to be demolished and rebuilt smaller?
James Dalgleish said demolition plans or a new plan for potential rebuilding were separate matters to the application for the extension with pitched roof and rendering.
He understood enforcement officers had called for removal of all the extension. The family had appealed against this. But an independent planning inspector had upheld the enforcement call.
Furthermore, “encroachment” onto a neighbour’s property was a planning matter under the council’s remit. However “trespass” was a separate legal matter, he explained.
He added: “It would be up to the neighbouring landlord to take separate legal action to address that. However, because the extension is outside the boundary it is not permitted development and needs planning permission.”
The house is next to a park. A tree consultant for Rossendale Council had raised concerns about potential damage to the roots of a protected tree there. The original work had been done two years ago, it was understood.
Labour Coun Andy MacNae said the tree would probably show signs of harm by now, if there was any root damage.
Mr Dalgleish said: “The tree consultant was concerned about damage and had asked for a report. That has not been done, so they have no information to say what has been done to protect a legally-protected tree.”
In a vote, the majority of councillors on the committee refused the retrospective application.