Sutton man’s anger at council planning mix-up

Ian Stokes outside the house he has built for his father in his Herne Street home garden.
Ian Stokes outside the house he has built for his father in his Herne Street home garden.

A Sutton man said he is ‘angry and frustrated’ after being threatened with legal action for building a flat in his garden which he was told he did not need planning permission for.

Ian Stokes (47) is having the small detached apartment built in the garden of his Herne Street home so that his elderly father - who has the onset of dementia - can live there.

He contacted Ashfield District Council about the project and was told he would not need planning permission if the facility did not have a kitchen - which it does not.

He has subsequently had the council’s building control team out at regular intervals to check on the work and no problems have been raised.

However Mr Stokes has now been told that he did need planning permission because an existing outhouse was knocked down to make way for the flat - and because its height is several centimetres over the allowed limit.

He has been told building work has to stop until the situation is sorted because the development breaches planning regulations and after 28 days, the council can initiate formal enforcement and legal proceedings.

“Apparently, what should have happened is because it’s a new building it changes everything, and it should have had planning permission from the start, but at no point have I been told that,” he said.

Mr Stokes said he is angry because the building control officers have never raised any concerns, saying it ‘makes a mockery’ of their inspections of the building.

“At no point since work has begun has anyone said it was too high,” he added.

“It’s not like we have tried to sidestep the council and do anything dodgy.”

An Ashfield District Council spokesman confirmed that Mr Stokes had asked if planning permission was required and was told it was not.

“It later transpired that the original building was demolished and a new structure built in its place. Also the height to which the new building has been constructed exceeds the permitted dimensions,” he said.

“It is these changes from the details originally submitted to the council which means that planning permission is now required.”

A meeting about the situation has been held between Mr Stokes and building control and planning officers. The officers believe it was a ‘constructive meeting’ and are ‘confident that a positive outcome can be achieved’.