A couple have been ordered to tear down a house disguised as a garage where they have lived illegally for more than five years.
Jackie Shearsby and partner Peter Hickinbotham gave themselves away when they applied for retrospective planning permission last December.
They had built the two-bedroom home in their garden after buying a crumbling property only fit for demolition.
From the front, the double doors suggest it is nothing more than a garage – but at the back there are windows, a porch area and even a pitched roof.
Inside, the “garage” opens up to reveal two good-sized bedrooms, a snug bathroom and an open plan kitchen-cum-diner-cum living room.
Shearsby, 55, and 68-year-old Hickinbotham admitted they converted the property in Long Itchington, Warwickshire in June 2011 and moved in full-time in April 2012.
The pair lived in it for more than four years until they were rumbled when they contacted planners themselves.
The case ended up at Nuneaton Magistrates’ Court where JPs heard the couple had lodged a retrospective application on December 15 last year for permission to turn the garage into a “habitable residential dwelling”.
The court ruled they had breached planning laws, adding there had been a “deliberate concealment”.
An enforcement order was made against the couple forcing them to return the building back to a garage and they were ordered to pay Stratford-on-Avon District Council £7,145.65 in court costs.
Cllr Simon Lawton, chairman of council’s regulatory committee, said: “Planning regulations are there to protect against unauthorised development.
“The council will consider this Court process to prevent breaches becoming immune from enforcement action where a breach has been deliberately concealed to avoid enforcement action.”