Newly-built home hit with demolition order – because it’s 75cm too tall and 145cm too far forward

The owner of a newly-built, four-bed detached house has been ordered to demolish the property – because it was built taller and in a different position than it should have been according to planning permission.

Plans for the house, which fronts onto Butterstile Lane in Prestwich, were approved by Bury council, in 2018.

Enforcement action was started by the town hall in 2023, once the house had been built and occupied. Planners said there had been a ‘breach of planning control’.

Bury council’s enforcement notice requires the house to be demolished and permanently removed, along with all garden structures and retaining walls. Following demolition, all materials must be removed from the site to return the land to its former state.

The enforcement notice, initially published in February 2023, was appealed. But the appeal was dismissed by the planning inspectorate on April 29, 2024. The appellant, Martin Gerard Wright, now has six months from the date of the April decision to demolish the house.

In its enforcement notice, Bury council claimed the building has been brought forward, towards Butterstile Lane, by approximately 1450mm – 145cm – so is not in the position shown on the approved plans. The enforcement notice also states: “The consequence of the above, the car parking area has a depth of 4,550mm as opposed to 6,000mm as indicated on the approved plans.

“The space available would not accommodate the parking requirements. The two-storey height bay feature to the front of the building has been omitted and therefore does not comply with the approved plans. The height of the building has been raised by approximately 750mm (75cm) and the front entrance steps are not positioned as per the approved plans.

“The southern gable elevation does not conform, as windows have been added at first and second floor levels.” The council added that the building ‘amounts to unauthorised development and constitutes a material breach of planning control’.

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The notice reads “The building, as constructed is detrimental in its siting, layout, lack of parking facility, external appearance and poor design.”

It is understood that the house is currently rented out. On Tuesday morning (May 21), an occupier said they did not want to comment.

A neighbour from the Butterstile Lane area, who asked not to be named, said: “It’s such a shame that it got so far along before action was taken. The council issued bins to the property. Why would they do that if it wasn’t compliant?

“I have no problem with the way it looks.”

Another neighbour, said: “The only thing I can say is I feel so sorry for the people living there.”

In his appeal decision notice, planning inspector Peter Willows said ‘the dwelling now built differs from the permitted dwelling in a number of respects’. He added: “I find that the building constructed harms the character and appearance of the area.”

He increased the length of time permitted for the demolition from 60 days to sixth months. He said: “Since the property is apparently now occupied, it is necessary to allow an appropriate period of time to allow the occupiers to look for alternative accommodation.

“Given this change in circumstances since the notice was issued, the council now accepts that a longer period for compliance is appropriate. The appellant suggests a period of six months.

“In my judgement, that would strike a proper balance between the needs of the occupiers of the property and practical considerations on the one hand, and the desirability of ensuring the breach of planning control is remedied without undue delay on the other.”

One of the concerns the inspector listed was that cars parked in the area at the front of the house could overhang the public footpath on Butterstile Lane. The decision, stated: “The scheme as built has created a car parking area with a depth of about 4.55m.

“This compares to the 6m of the permitted scheme. The house is on higher land and the parking space is contained by a retaining wall.

“The appellant has provided details of the length of a range of cars which shows that a modest family car, such as a Ford Focus, could fit within the available space.

“However, I cannot assume that every occupier of the dwelling, either now or in the future, will have only modest-sized cars. Moreover, the retaining wall means that any larger car could only be accommodated by overhanging the footway.

“Indeed, even a modest car would need to be parked very close to the retaining wall in order to avoid doing so. In practice, it seems likely to me that drivers would tend to leave a gap to the wall to avoid the risk of damaging their car and thereby overhang the footway.”