Former soldier’s four-year battle with Babergh District Council over 20cm error in roof height
- Credit: Gregg Brown
A Suffolk dad-of-two has said he is “exasperated” after being embroiled in a planning row with his district council for nearly four years.
Ex-army man Phil Thompson lives in a bungalow in East Bergholt with his two daughters.
Back in 2011 he applied for planning permission from Babergh District Council to add a gabled roof to his home, which was granted on appeal in 2012 providing he only raised the roof height by 300mm.
But during the renovation a error made by the builder saw the roof raised by 500mm – 200mm above the planning requirements.
Mr Thompson’s home, which is situated in a private road full of bungalows which have to adhere to certain height requirements to avoid the street scene being ruined, is also considered to be a brick-width too wide.
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After refusing to grant planning permission on a number of occasions, Babergh have now said they will no longer be accepting applications from Mr Thompson – despite the fact he has been left with a leaking roof which is covered by a plastic sheet.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous,” said Mr Thompson. “It leaks into my girls’ rooms, and the whole ordeal has been horrendous. It’s only 20cm.
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“It’s a never-ending saga and I just want it to end, I’m exasperated by it. There are no tiles on the roof and we’ve had to have ceilings pulled down.
“I’m now stuck and don’t know what to do. It will be expensive to bring down the roof, and it will be awkward living in the house while the roof is being done which could disrupt my girls’ education. Even then I don’t know if they will grant permission.”
A spokesman for Babergh confirmed they had received multiple planning applications from the dad-of-two.
“Mr Thompson received planning permission in 2011 for householder works that were never implemented due to a failure on the developer’s part to adhere to the approved details, instead erecting much larger extensions,” said the spokesman.
“Following a long dialogue between Babergh and Mr Thompson, a planning inspector appointed by the Secretary of State upheld an enforcement notice ordering that the applicant to either return the house to its original state or comply with the latest planning permission.
“The council considers that this is a clear position and in the interests of all involved, including neighbouring residents, we have asked Mr Thompson to comply with this notice to avoid further enforcement action.
The spokesman added: “This is not a new or recent decision – the inspector upheld this enforcement notice in May this year and Mr Thompson was informed of the decision at the time.
“We have repeatedly informed Mr Thompson that we will not accept any further applications given the very clear direction from the planning inspector.”
• In 2011 planning permission for an extension was made. This was initially refused but, on appeal, the inspector considered the proposed height increase (300mm) to not be detrimental to the street scene and granted planning permission.
• The extension built was not in line with the plans approved by the inspector – Babergh were advised of this by other residents and confirmed it on investigation. The extension’s height was 200mm higher than the permission, making it a total of 500mm higher than the pre-existing dwellings.
• Retrospective planning permission was sought in 2013 for the extension as built, but was refused by Babergh’s planning committee. It went to the planning inspectorate on appeal, but the inspector dismissed the appeal on the basis that the height increase would result in harm to the locality.
• Mr Thompson was then required to complete the extension in accordance with the original planning permission (including a height increase of 300mm, not 500mm).
• Planning permissions, under national law, last for three years after they are granted. In 2014 the planning permission lapsed and an enforcement notice was issued. During an appeal a new application – identical to the 2011 one – was submitted and granted by Babergh’s planning committee in 2015.
• As a result of the new permission, the inspector working on the appeal against the enforcement notice dismissed it, but did include an additional option for the extension to be completed within nine months (before Feburary 17, 2017) in line with the granted permission. This decision by the inspector was made in May 2016.
• Babergh say they will not be accepting any more applications from Mr Thompson in its current form.