A local authority is pulling down five luxury houses because they are ‘too big’ – leaving buyers of the new-build development without a home and tens of thousands of pounds out of pocket.
The five brand new mansions in the West Pennine moors near Bolton, Lancashire, are being demolished by the local council because they are 33 per cent bigger than initial planning permission agreed.
The appeals, which were rejected on Thursday, mean the plot of six-bed detached homes built in 2014 will be completely demolished, Bolton Council said, putting a bitter end to a five-year battle to save them.
The planning inquiry heard how the homes are up to a third bigger and in different locations than they were allowed, rendering them in breach of planning regulations for the area.
Bolton Council issued an enforcement notice for demolition in 2018 and a planning inspector has now given the householders 12 months to take down the structures and return the site to its previous state.
That period has been extended from six-months as a result of the appeal, it said.
At a previous hearing homeowner Elan Raja said he paid £1,057,000 for the plot in 2016 and claimed he has since spent more than £215,000 on rent and other expenses due to the unfinished project.
He said he has suffered from extreme stress as a result of the planning error, and claims it has caused him heart problems in recent years.
Development of the six-bedroom, stone-built exclusive houses began in 2014 when planning permission was granted for the conversion of a former farmhouse and four new homes around a central courtyard.
But finishing works were put on hold after a complaint was filed in October 2016, and Bolton Council found the houses were in breach of the planning permission.
The inquiry heard how plot one on the site had a 31% bigger footprint than allowed, plot two was 19% bigger, plot three 32% bigger and plot four 33% bigger.
In one case, the entire floor plan had been built in the other direction and several feet away from where the council granted permission.
The local authority issued an enforcement notice to the developers – Sparkle Developments – to tear down the entire building in 2018.
However residents appealed the verdict, claiming the decision was excessive and too harsh.
The owners now face the prospect of a ‘fall back position’, which is to demolish the existing buildings and rebuild in the correct areas to the correct size.
That planning permission, which is still in place, is for just four dwellings and conversion of the former farmhouse, which was demolished and stands partially rebuilt.
A four-day planning inquiry in March heard from plot holders and their lawyer as well as from Bolton Council.
The inquiry considered two appeals from the house owners, one against the demolition enforcement and another to try and overturn a decision on a subsequent amended planning application.
Both appeals were dismissed yesterday.
At the inquiry, Bolton Council argued harm had been caused to the green belt.
Their barrister Ian Ponter, said: “The appeal schemes generate a very substantial loss of openness.
“The character of the area is scattered farms, individual rural houses and groups of houses clustered into small villages located below the uplands.
“The original plans were expressly designed to be compatible with that settlement pattern.
“They were sensitively sited in a hamlet form of development.”
In the decision notice, planning inspector Jason Whitfield said: “Both appeal A and appeal B would result in a greater presence of built development in the green belt than the fall back position.
“I find that this greater increase in built form would be harmful, both spatially and visually, when located in an area characterised by openness and on a site which, when considered at its baseline, is largely free of built form.
“As a consequence, considering all the evidence before me, I find the harm resulting to green belt openness from the appeals would be greater than any such harm resulting from the fall back position.”