A homeowner who built a £200,000 home without planning permission during lockdown has finally started demolishing it after a three-year row with his neighbours.
Gurwinder Singh knocked-down his modest semi-detached house in Willenhall, West Midlands, and began replacing it with a four-bedroom home in 2020.
He was ordered to tear down the half-built home by Walsall Council following more than 95 complaints from local residents.
Neighbours described the property as looking like a “Travelodge in the middle of a housing estate”. Others called it a “monstrosity” and said building work had made their lives “hell”.
Delivery driver Singh appealed to the Planning Inspectorate, but the council dismissed the appeal and upheld the original enforcement notice in July.
By November this year he’d missed multiple deadlines to take his house apart, and was threatened with court action if he failed to comply with the enforcement notice by April 2024.
However, he now appears to be getting on with it, with the first floor torn down and more work underway to demolish the property in Sandringham Avenue.
One neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said: "It's about time - this has been going on for way too long and we just hope he sees it through now.
"We always said he'd never get away with it but as time went on you did wonder. It's been hell living next to a construction site and half-built shell for three years.
"We just hope he rips the rest of it down and doesn't leave another mess. We'll be relieved when it's all done and dusted."
Previously, another local said: "The house is bloody huge and looks like a horrible monster mansion.
“None of the other houses in this area are that big, what on earth was he thinking? It was at least three times the size of the original house. It looks like a sports hall."
Singh had never applied for planning permission and had only been given the green-light for a side extension to the existing 1960s house in 2020.
It is thought the brand-new house would have cost in the region of £200,000 to build – and would have been the biggest property in the area.
When enforcement got involved, two retrospective planning applications were submitted – the first of which was withdrawn and the second refused.
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Singh was then given a series of five deadlines, with the first giving him until 7 October to demolish the building.
The father-of-two was also given until 7 November to stabilise the adjoining property and remove all below ground works by 7 December.
A spokesperson for Walsall Council said: “We will review the need for potential further action once the final deadline for compliance has passed.
"We are aware that the owner has started demolition work and continue to monitor in accordance with the enforcement notice. The owner is undertaking works themselves at this stage.”
When do you need planning permission?
According to the government, you will most likely need planning permission if you want to build something new, make a major change to your building such as an extension or change the use of the building.
Homeowners should contact their local planning authority (LPA) through their council to find out if they need planning permission.
To apply for planning permission, they must do so through the LPA.
If a building project needs planning permission and you do the work without getting it, you can be served an enforcement notice, ordering you to undo all the changes you have made.
It is illegal to ignore an enforcement notice, but you can appeal against it.