Plan for it properly

It is perhaps surprising that home owners on a busy road think that they can 'disguise' work to a house with a view to avoiding planning legislation.

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It is perhaps surprising that home owners on a busy road think that they can 'disguise' work to a house with a view to avoiding planning legislation, but this is exactly what happened in a recent case.

Many people have read about the Surrey farmer who hid the mock Tudor castle that he had built without planning permission behind hay bales.  He was ordered to take the house down - but it is perhaps understandable why he thought that he would 'get away with it' given that the house was built on fairly secluded farmland.  Not so a house in a busy Leicester street.

In this case, the homeowners obtained planning permission in 2007 for development to their house, but the planning permission made it clear that parking facilities and the garage should remain permanently. The homeowners actually converted the garage into a small home - but hid it behind a fake garage door and a fence. Perhaps unsurprisingly their neighbours knew what was happening and reported them to the local council.  In addition to being ordered to restore the garage, the homeowners had to pay a fine and legal fee.

A local councillor said: 'The message from this case is clear. If you breach planning regulations and ignore us we will not just go away.'

The case is a reminder of some important issues relating to planning legislation. The starting point is that any 'development' requires planning permission on the face of it although there are permitted development rights which allow property owners to make some changes without formal planning permission.

The situation where planning problems and breaches are most likely to arise is on the sale of a property. If you are thinking of making changes to your property, obtain specialist advice to ensure that you do not fall foul of the planning legislation.

If you are buying a property that has been altered or extended, your solicitor should make comprehensive enquiries before you exchange contracts to ensure that the property has all of the necessary consents.

To discuss this or any other property related issue, contact us.

Members: Simon Shaw, Elizabeth Rimell and Janice Leyland.
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