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Buggering Hell! I've broken planning permission - what will happen?

(12 Posts)
amidonefor Sat 27-Feb-16 12:05:04

We've just had an extension built on our semi-detached house.

There were no party wall issues or anything like that but because we wanted to build outwards by 4 metres we had to apply through Neighbour Consultation/Permitted development process.

All went fine - no objections - nothing - attached neighbour and other neighbour both have extensions but both slightly smaller and built a good while back.

Council approved everything and permission decision says 'Prior Approval Not Required'.

Council even randomly sent out a planning chap to have a look without any notice or appointment a couple of days after we submitted the application. He took a couple of photos of house and garden.
Nothing had been started at that stage.

We knocked down an old lean-to and replaced it with new proper extension.

All went fine - all is finished now.

I was reading through the Council papers yesterday and I see that I have to inform them when the work is completed - this is because the current limits on permitted development/neighbour consultation expire in 2019 - so basically we have to have finished the build by 2019 - all finished already.

When I put in the Application Form - which was sent to all the neighbours with the chance to object - I made a big mistake which I've only just noticed!

I gave the height at eaves of new extension as 2 metres and the overall height as 3 metres.
These were the dimensions on the form and approved by the Council.

This was because I knew the builder had said he would build to the same eaves height as the existing eaves and the overall height would be 1metre above the eaves - sloping apex roof to centre height of 3m.

Then I read the planning stuff and found that the heights should be measured from the external surrounding ground level!!!

I measured from inside our old lean-to!!! From on top of a raised floor!

This is my fault - not builder - I did forms - he had no input into this.

The eaves of the house connect to the eaves of extension and are all level and in line - however - the internal floor is much higher than the external ground level and addtionally, our back garden slopes downwards and so the height to the eaves from the outside ground level is probably at least 2.3 metres and the overall height then about 3.3 metres.

On my Decision Letter from the Council - it seems that one can generally apply for permission to build eaves up to 3 metres high and overall roof height of 4 metres (that's the general legislation on planning)

BUT the Decision Letter says You must carry out the works in accordance with the details approved by the Council
- namely 2 metres high at eaves and 3 metres overall height.

I know they may never find out - unless they send someone out to measure it.

None of the neighbours have said anything - I don't think anyone would know from looking and all our gardens are obscured by trees and bushes.

What will happen if the Council chap comes out again and says 'that looks higher than on the form? And measures it!!!

Will I have to rebuild it?

Sorry this is so long...

Hamishandthefoxes Sat 27-Feb-16 12:18:31

The Council have 4 years to notice and take action before the development is treated as lawful.

If they do notice, you would usually have the opportunity to apply for z retrospective permission. If this is refused, the council may decide to take enforcement action which will require you to rebuild at a lower height. If that is the case you will certainly know about it and will have a right of appeal to thd Secretary of State.

You should note that this might need to be declared if you decide not to make s retrospective application and put your house on the market before the 4 year period is up.

Hamishandthefoxes Sat 27-Feb-16 12:18:43

The Council have 4 years to notice and take action before the development is treated as lawful.

If they do notice, you would usually have the opportunity to apply for z retrospective permission. If this is refused, the council may decide to take enforcement action which will require you to rebuild at a lower height. If that is the case you will certainly know about it and will have a right of appeal to thd Secretary of State.

You should note that this might need to be declared if you decide not to make s retrospective application and put your house on the market before the 4 year period is up.

origamiwarrior Sat 27-Feb-16 12:26:45

from my town planner husband:

You really shouldn't worry about this. The LPA will not check up and if nobody has complained by now, it's unlikely they will. Worst case the LPA does find out and makes you apply for retrospective pp but I'm sure you would get it. In any event case law is to the effect that unauthorised breaches of planning permission cannot be enforced against after 4 years in the case of development (which yours is) or 10 years in the case of a change of use so long as the breach is not intentionally hidden from view. See the Fidler case. So, as long as nobody raises it before 4 years from the date of construction have elapsed, you'll be home and hosed and lawful again. Of course if you try to sell your house before 4 years have elapsed and you get a fussy buyer who spots it, they may raise it - but then you could always fund a cheap insurance policy to get around that.

Blu Sat 27-Feb-16 12:36:23

If, in the unlikely event that they check, and the unlikely event that the then notice the extra 30cms, all you would have to do is submit retrospectively.
And they are not allowed to refuse anything retrospectively that they would have approved at the time. Your heights are within the 3m / 4m limits.

I wouldn't worry about it at all.

amidonefor Sat 27-Feb-16 14:05:52

Sorry for delay in responding - I downloaded loads of Microsoft updates and they've jiggered my laptop... ah well!

Phew! that's pretty positive news all.

@ Origamimwarrior - that's good to hear from a qualified perspective.

Thanks heavens for Mumsnet.

I didn't know about the 4 years thing - we probably will be here more than 4 years anyway.

My main worry is that because of the temporary nature of the more generous Neighbour Consultation/Permitted Development rights - we must tell the Council we've completed the build before 30 May 2019 as I guess that's the date at which they expire and return to the previous small allowances.

So, because of that, and because the Council sent round this chap to look at our house before we did any work at all - I'm worried that if I tell them we've completed, someone else might just turn up and demand to measure the extension - just because they can!

I'll just die! I don't know whether to pretend I'd never noticed or admit I've been an idiot and done the measurements from inside the house - what an eejit!

@ origamiwarrior & @ Blu - would they really only say apply for retrospective pemission? I'll defintely have to notifiy them before the 4 years are up or else I'll miss the May 2019 deadline.

Perhaps I'll do it in the summer when the bushes are all big so he might not notice the change in scale!!!

I don't know how I got it so wrong - it even says on the application form, the measurements should be taken outside.

Northernlurker Sat 27-Feb-16 14:41:08

If the eaves are all in line I think it's very unlikely it would look wrong enough to be measured. You might as well wait till the summer but I doubt you've anything to worry about.

Blu Sat 27-Feb-16 14:46:51

IF they visit and spot it , yes, they have to give you the chance to apply for retrospective permission.

They can only start enforcement against anything once permission has been applied for and they have ascertained that it is something they would have turned down in the first place. Which in your case it sounds as if they wouldn't. Because they cite 3m and 4m and yours is not that tall. And none of your neighbours have complained about the actual height now that it is built.

LA Planning Departments are understaffed, and in the current climate of develop, build, extend and convert, understaffed. Two doors down from us a house was being extended in every direction, and clearly being prepared for multiple occupancy -which does require permission. I rang up when they doubled the number of Velux windows in the new loft from the drawings, and they just shrugged and said it would be a non issue.

They do not want to give themselves needless work over an extra 3cm that is within the guidelines anyway.

IMO, IME.

Blu Sat 27-Feb-16 14:47:18

Sorry- 30 cm.

amidonefor Sat 27-Feb-16 15:45:58

@Blu - Thanks Blu - that's very reassuring.

None of the neighbours have complained - nobody's noticed - It's a boring run of the mill extension much the same as everyone else's in this area.

I hadn't noticed myself until I thought I better measure it - just in case....

I'll wait until the summer and then write and tell them it's finished.

Would I be better off saying in my letter (August time) that I finished it in January - so they (the Council) could infer that everyone has had 6 months to notice any issues and nobody will have complained.

Or would they start wondering why are they only writing now to tell us about completion when they finished so many months ago?

Or - none of the above - they don't have suspicious minds like me!

Hamishandthefoxes Sat 27-Feb-16 16:12:49

Tell them as soon as it's finished to get the 4 years time limit started asap!

amidonefor Sun 28-Feb-16 10:11:18

Thanks everyone - I slept a lot better last night knowing that there is a solution to this which probably wouldn't involve re-building.

I could really kick myself for my stupidity.

All I had to do was put the correct measurements on the form!

The extension is exactly the right size it was supposed to be - the dimensions on the elevations drawings I gave the council are correct - it's just those two measurements which are different because of where I stupidly took them.

It's not that the extension is in reality any higher than planned - it's that the garden is lower - and that's where I should have measured from.

In fact, using the dimensions I supplied would have meant one very big step down from the house to the extension!

Thanks again all! Live and learn!

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