Couple fined for ‘secret house’ hidden in garage
A COUPLE who duped council planners by building a house disguised as a garage have been fined more than £1000.
Sneaky Dr Reeta Herzallah, 37, and Hamdi Almasri, 39, built the tiny detached property by converting an old garage.
To get round planning laws, they concealed the dwelling behind a fake garage door.
A court heard how the couple – who have been under investigation by Blaby District Council since October 2015 – also used a fence to hide the house in Enderby, Leicestershire.
After failing to attend court or enter pleas, they were convicted at Leicester Magistrates Court of a raft of planning breaches.
They were each ordered to pay a £770 fine for breaching the orders, legal costs of £1252, and a £77 victim surcharge. They will also have to restore the garage to its former use.
It was also heard how the tricky couple had created an unauthorised vehicle access onto the busy B4114 dual carriageway road.
After receiving reports of the breaches in October 2015, Blaby District Council approached Herzallah and Almasri in an attempt to rectify the situation.
The pair issued a retrospective planning application in July 2016, but this was rejected and dismissed on appeal by the Planning Inspectorate in February last year.
In May and June, they undertook some “remedial works” which included removing some of the excess fencing.
However, follow-up inspections in July, August and November, showed that no work had been done to the garage, leading the council to seek prosecution.
Tory Councillor Sheila Scott, the council’s cabinet member for planning, said: “The message from this case is clear. If you breach planning regulations and ignore us, we will not just go away.
“Creating an access onto the busy B4114 and blocking off valuable off-road parking space was completely unacceptable.”
The house in Leicestershire was hidden by a fake garage door in an attempt to get round planning laws