An English­man’s home was his cas­tle, but not for very long...

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

AL­WAYS dreamed of build­ing your own home and think you might have found the per­fect plot? Run­ning out of space and think­ing about ex­tend­ing rather than mov­ing? Stop.

Be­fore you go any fur­ther, con­sider the cau­tion­ary tales of two men who built with­out per­mis­sion.

Re­cently, Robert Fi­dler, a farmer in Sur­rey, learned that his mock Tudor cas­tle – com­plete with ram­parts and a can­non – couldn’t be saved from de­mo­li­tion. Built with­out plan­ning per­mis­sion in 2002, the lux­ury home was hid­den be­hind a wall of hay bales and tar­pau­lin un­til 2006 when the Fi­dlers at­tempted to claim im­mu­nity from plan­ning en­force­ment rules. Af­ter three years of ap­peals, a High Court judge has ruled against Mr Fi­dler, who must now de­mol­ish his cas­tle.

Peter How­ell lost a sim­i­lar bat­tle last year af­ter build­ing a £400,000 five-bed­roomed house in In­gleby Arn­cliffe, North York­shire with­out plan­ning per­mis­sion.

The house, judged to be dom­i­nant and vis­ually in­tru­sive due to its height, bulk and colour, was de­mol­ished on June 15 af­ter a five-year bat­tle that in­cluded the re­jec­tion of five ret­ro­spec­tive plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tions, the dis­missal of two ap­peals and Mr How­ell los­ing the house to the Royal Bank of Scot­land.

To avoid pay­ing a sim­i­lar price, take the time to plan, get as much ad­vice as you can and make sure you get all the nec­es­sary per­mis­sions. 1. Per­mis­sion First, Build­ing Sec­ond.

Find out what per­mis­sion is needed and make that your pri­or­ity. For self-builders, hav­ing the nec­es­sary per­mis­sions in place is key as it un­locks the value of the land. For any­one ex­tend­ing or re­mod­elling it is pos­si­ble that, un­der per­mit­ted devel­op­ment rights, plan­ning won’t be needed. How­ever, other re­stric­tions could ap­ply and in some cases your lo­cal author­ity could have re­moved your per­mit­ted devel­op­ment rights so it’s al­ways worth giv­ing them a call to check. Visit www.plan­ning­por­tal.gov.uk. 2 Know the Build­ing Reg­u­la­tions.

Even if you don’t need plan­ning per­mis­sion, build­ing reg­u­la­tions ap­proval is usu­ally nec­es­sary. These set out min­i­mum re­quire­ments for struc­tural in­tegrity, fire safety, en­ergy ef­fi­ciency, damp proof­ing, ven­ti­la­tion and other key as­pects that en­sure a build­ing is safe. You can be­gin work im­me­di­ately af­ter giv­ing the lo­cal author­ity build­ing con­trol depart­ment 48 hours’ no­tice to­gether with a plan and the fee. Work will be in­spected on site for com­pli­ance so make sure you trust your builder. 3. Know when to em­ploy a pro­fes­sional.

Suc­cess­ful build­ing is get­ting the right bal­ance be­tween us­ing the pro­fes­sion­als and do­ing it your­self . Al­ways con­sider an ar­chi­tect or de­signer – they can of­ten make all the dif­fer­ence. If it’s com­plex, you may need a pro­fes­sional plan­ning con­sul­tant who will “speak” the lan­guage of the lo­cal author­ity. 4. De­sign to suit the house or plot

It’s a bad idea to set your heart on a par­tic­u­lar size, style or de­sign of house or ex­ten­sion. If you’re build­ing a house from scratch, suit­able land is so scarce you will al­most al­ways have to de­sign a house to suit the con­straints of the plot. If you are think­ing of ex­tend­ing, the shape of your plot will in­flu­ence what can be built and the prox­im­ity of neigh­bour­ing houses will dic­tate where you can put win­dows. Flex­i­bil­ity in de­sign and ap­proach will max­imise your chance of suc­cess. 5. Know the rules of the game. If you are new to this game, its rules can be quite con­fus­ing. Small-scale plan­ning de­ci­sions for in­di­vid­ual houses or ex­ten­sions are based mainly on poli­cies that are con­tained in lo­cal Devel­op­ment Plan doc­u­ments. There may also be a lo­cal de­sign state­ment which im­pacts on what the parish coun­cil will ap­prove. Poli­cies and de­sign state­ments can vary dra­mat­i­cally from one lo­cal author­ity or area to an­other, so it is pos­si­ble to get plan­ning per­mis­sion for some­thing on one side of the road but be re­fused per­mis­sion for ex­actly the same devel­op­ment on the other. Read up on your Lo­cal Plan or de­sign state­ment. 6 Love thy neigh­bour. What­ever the size of your build­ing project, keep the neigh­bours in­formed. Ob­jec­tions can cause you a real headache: even though they might not have strong plan­ning grounds, they can have a neg­a­tive po­lit­i­cal im­pact and cause con­sid­er­able de­lay. Petty lo­cal pol­i­tics can play a dis­pro­por­tion­ate role. 7. Know the Party Wall Act. If you’re ex­tend­ing, con­form­ing to the Party Wall Act is a le­gal re­quire­ment and not a plan­ning or build­ing con­trol mat­ter. If you’re build­ing or dig­ging foun­da­tions within 3m of the bound­ary, party wall or party wall struc­ture, or if you are dig­ging foun­da­tions within 6m of a bound­ary, the work will re­quire you to com­ply with the Act. You will need to is­sue a no­tice to your neigh­bours and you may need a sur­veyor to act on your be­half. Down­load a free in­for­ma­tion book from www.com­mu­ni­ties. gov.uk. 8. Be­ware of re­mov­ing trees. It is a crim­i­nal of­fence to cut down a tree pro­tected by a Tree Preser­va­tion Or­der ( TPO). You can­not al­ter or even prune a tree that has a TPO on it with­out per­mis­sion. All trees within a Con­ser­va­tion Area are pro­tected. 9. Do your home­work. Do your re­search be­fore you start. Con­tact your lo­cal plan­ning of­fice or visit the Govern­ment web­site www.plan­ning­por­tal.gov.uk. Home­build­ing and Ren­o­vat­ing mag­a­zine is a good source of in­for­ma­tion, as are the Home­build­ing and Ren­o­vat­ing shows.

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