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Anger as illegal £500,000 house floods hamlet with lights ‘like a Mars invasion’

Businessman Tony Harvey failed to obtain planning permission when he built the single-storey barn-style home
Businessman Tony Harvey failed to obtain planning permission when he built the single-storey barn-style home - Graham Hunt/BNPS

A businessman’s illegal £500,000 home is facing demolition after neighbours saw it light up “like an alien invasion from Mars” at night.

Tony Harvey failed to obtain planning permission when he self-built the contemporary family home on a plot of land behind a hedge.

The single-storey barn-style home sits on agricultural land above the quaint rural hamlet of West Compton, near Glastonbury, Somerset.

But its sudden appearance sparked complaints from villagers, who claim it is causing light pollution as it has large glazed windows that illuminate “like a Christmas tree” and “an alien invasion from Mars” come nightfall.

It has also been claimed that the building has redirected the water run-off from the field onto the road, which freezes in cold weather making for dangerous driving conditions.

Mr Harvey, a motor mechanic who runs a successful garage, was visited by local council officials 12 months ago who told him that the building was illegal.

‘Lack of privacy in summer and winter’

He applied twice for retrospective planning permission to retain the two-bedroom home as either a residential dwelling or an agricultural workers’ dwelling.

Both of these applications were rejected by Somerset Council which served an enforcement notice on Mr Harvey, ordering him to demolish the house within six months. He has since appealed it and is awaiting a decision from the planning inspectorate.

The planning row has split the local community. While most residents in West Compton are opposed to the house, he has the support from people in nearby Shepton Mallet where his business is based.

Stuart Vaughan, 77, said: “It has got glass overlooking these fantastic views. There are no street lights in West Compton and no light pollution so when he puts the lights on it is lit up and it looks like an alien invasion from Mars.”

‘A distinct stink of nimbyism’

Harriet Ray, who lives in the Manor House in West Compton, said: “The building is in a prominent position on the summit of the hill and overlooks the houses and gardens of West Compton residents, causing a lack of privacy both in summer and winter.

“At night the property is lit up like a Christmas tree so that the skyline is dominated by lights from the building.”

But Rob Smith, a customer at Mr Harvey’s garage, said: “Many of the objections to this application have a distinct stink of nimbyism.”

Mr Harvey declined to comment. James Whilding, managing director of Acorus Rural Property Services Limited, said in a planning report on his behalf: “The design seeks to provide housing of exceptional quality with high quality design, construction and material quality.”

A spokesman for Somerset Council said “an enforcement notice has been issued requiring the property to be demolished and the land restored back to an agricultural field”.