A Nottingham couple have become embroiled in a dispute with their local council over a breach of planning regulations by building in their back garden.
Ishitaq Ahmed and his wife Nila Ahmed of Wollaton Vale have been hit with a court fine of £20,000 after failing to comply with the legal requirements of a Planning Enforcement Notice, even though some of the breaches were resolved by retrospective planning permission. The family of seven has been quoted as being ‘baffled’ despite breaching a number of planning regulations over several years.
Complaints started in 2013 when the couple began carrying out works at the end of their garden, included the construction of oversized outbuildings, a summerhouse and a fish pond. The buildings and renovations have cost an estimated £120,000.
Mr Ahmed agreed that his buildings might not be to everyone’s taste but said “it’s my back garden and I can’t see the issue with it … I just wanted a garden where the kids have fun and chill”.
The elaborate works include a brook running through the garden, crossed by a wooden bridge which leads to the new summerhouse beyond. ‘Ishy’s Lounge’, as the summerhouse is known, has had no enforcement notice served on it.
Broxtowe Borough Council planning officers visited the property on numerous occasions after complaints were received. Planners attempted to solve the issues with the garden, whilst the family continued with the works and during this time the Ahmeds were given planning permission to build the pond to a specification not to build the walls too high and to be kept in line with regulations. However, the building exceeded the height restrictions which Mr Ahmed defended, saying “I just want my garden to be safe for my kids, so I made it slightly higher.”
The plans were also changed in an area near the brook, which the council required to remain grassed but was concreted over. This would have needed planning permission but Mr Ahmed said he did not realise this before he proceeded. He said: “I’ve ripped up the grass now and I’ve got to reapply for planning permission for the concrete retrospectively. I’m baffled by the fine I have received, with £20,000 being a lot of money and it’s set me back. I am just a layman. I felt spoken down to about it all. I do think it’s been unfair.”
Broxtowe Borough Council served an enforcement notice in August 2017 against the height of the pond walls asking for them to be lowered and the concrete removed. The notice required reinstatement of the grass on the banks of the brook which should be planted with native species. When the notice was ignored, the council took legal action which led to the couple pleading guilty in court and receiving the fine. They were also ordered to pay £1,140 in prosecution costs and £260 victim surcharge.
There have since been changes to planning permission regulations concerning bigger extensions but not the type of works that were carried out in the Ahmed’s garden.
The new rules enable homeowners to add a single-storey extension to the rear of their property of up to six metres (terraced or semi-detached house) or eight metres for a detached property. Prior to this, planning applications for extensions of this size involved paying an up front fee and waiting months for a decision to be made.
Extensions of any kind always need to adhere to building regulations and health and safety standards, although extensions to property can now be made more easily. In general, buildings such as summerhouses are not too much of a problem as long as you stick within the guidelines but if you are in any doubt you should contact your local authority for advice. It saves time, effort and money to apply for planning permission before commencing work on your property or garden.
A Chartered Surveyor can assist if you require assistance on home and property alterations or are buying a new property that has been structurally changed.