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Woman loses bid to keep house ‘hidden’ in garage
A PROPERTY developer who built a house in her garden near Worcester without planning permission has been given six months to turn it back into a garage.
The Planning Inspectorate dismissed the appeal from Carol Jones, of Woodend, Crown East Lane, Lower Broadheath, against the notice issued by Malvern Hills District Council after the house was built under the guise of a garage/workshop.
And in a separate ruling, Mrs Jones must pay the council’s costs.
During the inquiry earlier this summer, inspector Jane Stiles was told that Mrs Jones was granted permission to build a detached house and garage on the site in 2006.
However, inside the ‘shell’ of the garage, she created another home in which she lived for about two years, followed by two paying tenants.
She later applied to use the garage building as a home but it was refused by Malvern Hills District Council.
Mrs Stiles ruled that having been in the property development trade, Mrs Jones and her husband – a builder – should have known that planning permission was needed.
“The appellant deliberately set out to deceive the council,” said Mrs Stiles.
On the separate subject of costs, Mrs Stiles said Mrs Jones’s unreasonable behaviour had resulted in unnecessary expense.
“To my mind, the appellant has behaved unreasonably from the outset, and the respective case that she has put forward has evolved to suit her circumstances,” she said.
“After the dwelling came to the attention of the council, the appellant has tried, without success, to find a loophole in the planning system that would enable her to retain the dwelling.
“First, she fraudulently tried to argue that the building had initially been built as a garage and then subsequently converted to a dwelling.
“When that approach was unsuccessful, instead, in the current appeal, she has admitted the building had been erected as a dwelling but she has tried to argue that due to the passage of time, it was too late for the council to take enforcement action.”
Following the decision, Councillor Tony Penn, the district council’s portfolio holder for planning and housing, said: “This case should be a warning to others who believe they can obtain retrospective permission through deliberate concealment of an unauthorised development.”
Mrs Jones, who represented herself at the inquiry, now has six months to stop the building being used as a house, permanently remove all the fixtures in the two bathrooms and kitchen, and the internal partition wall preventing it from being used as a garage.
Mrs Jones was not available for comment.