Couple told to demolish garage and sunroom or face £50,000 fine

Despite receiving support from neighbours, James Bevis and his partner Louise were told they needed planning permission for the DIY extension.

Midlothian couple told to demolish Dalkeith home’s garage and sunroom or face £50,000 fine LDRS

A couple are being threatened with a £50,000 fine if they do not demolish a garage and sunroom they built four years ago on a budget of just £3000 in their garden.

Despite receiving support from neighbours, James Bevis and his partner Louise were told they needed planning permission for the DIY extension because part of it was forward from the front of their home in Mayfield, Dalkeith.

The council refused to grant permission instead ordering them to remove the building and all its materials from their garden.

After a two year hiatus caused by the pandemic, the local authority has now issued an enforcement notice, claiming a failure to remove their extension could result in a £50,000 fine and “undermine public confidence in planning policy”.

The sunroom and garage next to the house in Mayfield.LDRS

Now the couple feel they have no choice but to take their case to Scottish Ministers to intervene.

James, 52, a joiner by trade, said the sunroom – as the council has described it – was added to the garage as a space for the couple’s twin teenage girls to spend time with friends.

He said: “We read the planning rules and did not think it needed planning permission so were surprised when we were told we needed to apply, but all the advice we were given suggested it would be okay.

“We held our hands up to the mistake but when the planning officer came out it was clear she was not happy with anything we had done.

“She even accused us of thinking because we had bought an ex-council house we could do what we wanted.

“All our neighbours are supportive and can’t believe the actions of the council, there are plenty of other houses around with extensions which are also forward of the houses but they all seem to be fine.”

Louise, 44, added: “The enforcement notice was really intimidating telling us we could be fined up to £50,000. It is frightening and we feel we are being victimised.

“We are really hoping common sense prevails here and the Scottish Government Reporter will see this is not anything other than an improvement to the garden.”

The couple live on an end terraced house on Laurelbank which has a large side garden rather than space at the back.

They built the garage and sunroom in the side garden, with it extending slightly beyond the front of the house.

However, decking also installed in the garden, which extends even further forward, has been granted planning permission.

In the enforcement notice issued by the council it argues that allowing the building to remain would undermine public confidence in planning policy.

However, a planning officer’s report into the original application acknowledged no complaints or objections to the building were lodged by neighbours.

Instead they received two letters of support from people living across the road.

The council notice said: “The council’s planning authority has deffered (sic) taking enforcement action due to the circumstances relating to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“However, that situation has now improved and the unauthorised building that houses both developments now needs to be removed.

“Its continuing presence on the land is in conflict with the democratic, planning, decision making process and would thereby undermine the credibility of the planning system and public trust in its outcomes.”

The appeal is with Scottish Ministers.

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