Homeowner who built a house on his driveway starts tearing it down

Homeowner who built a house on his driveway starts tearing it down

February 1, 2023

Homeowner who built a house on his driveway while only having permission for a garage finally starts tearing it down

  • Mr M Singh originally had planning permission for a one-storey garage in 2019
  • He was given until July 2022 to demolish the house completely, but has not
  • Read more: Couple at war over six-foot fence around £600,000 home

A resident who built a small detached house on his driveway without planning permission has finally began downsizing his unauthorised property.

The homeowner – a Mr M Singh – was originally given approval to build a single-storey garage on Vaughton Street, in Highgate, Birmingham, in 2019.

But planning bosses were left stunned in October last year after discovering a small two-storey ‘house’ with four separate rooms had been constructed on the driveway instead.

Mr Singh was ordered to demolish the residential dwelling following an appeal, during which he argued there were only ‘minor differences’ to what was approved – but has failed to meet the July 2022 deadline.

Planning bosses gave permission for a one-storey garage to be built, but instead found a two-storey house with a front door

The family has now reduced the size of the structure to be more in line with their original plans – but the council has ordered its total destruction

The family had also previously said they were using the mini property as a gym and were defiant it was staying put.

The building was complete with windows, a front room, front door and roof extension. 

Photographs taken this week now show how the homeowner has significantly reduced the structure to the shape of a previously approved garage.

But the council originally ordered the family to totally demolish the structure, meaning the planning battle could be set to continue for some time. 

A woman who answered the door of the house refused to comment when approached but neighbours said the building work had been ongoing for weeks.

One resident, who did not want to be named, said: ‘It looks like they have finally complied with the order and thank goodness because it was an eyesore.

‘I was amazed they got away with it, so it’s nice to see that common sense has now prevailed.

‘They will be kicking themselves though, it must have cost them a few bob to throw that up in the first place and now having to pay to pull it mostly down.

The Singh family began downsizing their property after a failed appeal in which they argued there were only ‘minor’ differences to the agreed garage

The property was reportedly being used as a mini gym by the family, who contested the council’s ruling

Planners had originally given approval for a 5.3m x 4.6m garage to be built at the location, which the new building exceeded by several metres

‘It’s hard to have too much sympathy with them though as they were clearly in the wrong.

‘They’ve been working on it for a few weeks now and it certainly looks more like a garage.’

Another neighbour said: ‘We just assumed they had permission to do that in the first place.

‘You’re never happy to see extensions or new-builds going up blocking out sunlight or replacing gardens and trees but it’s just what people do.

‘But if it was only given permission to be a garage I cannot see how they thought they would ever get away with it. It’s clearly a house.

‘How on earth they were planning to pass that off as garage, God only knows.’

Mr Singh was given until July to get rid of the new building for being in breach of the original planning permission.

Planners had originally given approval for a 5.3m x 4.6m garage to be built at the location, which the new building exceeded by several metres.

Planning Inspector Thomas Shields wrote in his report after visiting the house last March: ‘The appellant’s case is that the building already benefits from planning permission granted by the council in 2019.

‘He argues that although there are differences between the approved plans for the garage and the appeal building they are minor differences.

‘The approved plans for the garage show a single storey detached garage with a footprint of 5.3m x 4.6m and a height of 3.6m.

Builders have been hard at work on the property in recent weeks, although it remains unclear whether the council will be satisfied with the finished building

‘It was also shown having a standard garage door to the front and no windows on any elevation.

‘In comparison with the approved garage the appeal building has a footprint of approximately 8.7m x 4.7m and a height of 5.3m.

‘Consequently, it is substantially larger than the approved building. It is not a minor difference.’

Mr Shields continued: ‘Instead of single-storey, the appeal building is 1.5 storeys and has two rooms in the roof, facilitated by an almost full-width box dormer.

‘Instead of a garage door, there is a pedestrian door into the front room and a tripartite bow window.

‘Two more windows in the rear elevation serve a separate, smaller room.

‘All of these differences, between what was approved, and what has been built, are not minor.

‘Since the appeal building bears little resemblance to the scale and design of the approved single-storey garage, it does not benefit from that planning permission.

‘The requirements of the notice are: demolish the entire unauthorised detached structure and remove all demolished building materials and rubble from the premises.’

A spokesperson for Birmingham City Council said: ‘The council is actively pursuing compliance with the Enforcement Notice.

‘It is a live case so there’s nothing more we can say at this stage.’

The council had said previously: ‘We served an EN (enforcement notice) for the demolition of the unauthorised structure when the owner lost at appeal.

‘We are in discussions with the owner re timeline. Compliance with the notice was due by July 1, 2022.’

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