When you are building an extension, it is very easy to make a small mistake that means you have not complied with your planning permission and are at risk of planning enforcement action.
Some people make changes to their proposal deliberately, taking the chance that the council will not take any interest, but for many it is a genuinely innocent mistake.
In this case, our clients had built a rear dormer roof extension – a very standard type of extension and something that does not need planning permission because it is usually permitted development.
However, permitted development is subject to a long list of rules and conditions, and one of these is that the extension cannot rise any higher than the ridgeline of the existing roof (the ridgeline is the very top of the roof).
By the time the builders had added the necessary insulation and cladding etc, the roof was slightly visible from the street, meaning it was a bit taller than the original roof.
Brighton & Hove Council was not happy and served and enforcement notice requiring them to demolish the extension entirely.
That might seem excessive – why not just ask them to reduce the height? – but enforcement generally requires you the reverse the unauthorised development as a whole.
The homeowners were very upset – they had not realised they had done anything wrong and had spent their life savings on the new extension. They certainly couldn’t afford to pay to remove it entirely, and be back where they had begun.
We appealed the enforcement notice on their behalf, pointing out that the change was very minor and barely visible from the street, causing no harm to the streetscene. We pointed out that the houses stepped up and down the street anyway, because the land was not level.
Happily, the appeal inspector accepted our arguments and allowed the appeal, granting planning permission for the dormer that had been built.
If you are facing planning enforcement action, do not hesitate to get in touch with our planners.
For more on enforcement and homeowner extensions, also check out Martin Gaine’s book, How to Get Planning Permission.