A London-based couple who disguised their home as a garage has been slapped with a fine over 7,000 euros and has been ordered to tear it down. 68-year-old Peter Hickinbotham and his partner, 55-year-old Jackie Shearsby were found guilty of “deliberate concealment” and breaching planning laws after they built a two-bedroom pad in their garden.
The home currently existing on their property at Long Itchington, Warks, was to be demolished. The couple moved into the garage five years ago but things changed when they applied to the council to turn it into a “habitable residential dwelling.” Last week they were ordered to pay the Stratford-on-Avon District Council 7, 145.65 euros in court costs last week.
Nuneaton Magistrates Court also made an enforcement order against the couple which will force them to return the building back into a garage. Hickinbotham said that he is very disappointed. “I thought I would have got it through planning but they’ve come up with some […] story about concealment.”
The double garage door fixed to the front of the building simply hides a wall and doesn’t act as an actual entrance. From all other angles, the building has windows, a porch area, and even a pitched roof. Hickinbotham says he is determined to appeal the decision nevertheless.
Hickinbotham also states that he has applied for retrospective application due to spending more than five years at the property. “Planners came and looked at the place and wanted more time to get the paperwork together. It came back and said I was concealing it. I’d done everything the law or government says I have to do, been doing it for five years, bills to prove that.”
He continued on saying, “They looked outside saying the conifers are hiding it, the gates and fence are hiding it, but they’d been there for 30 years. Obviously, trees grow, they were planted in 2009. They were three years old when they were at six foot, so that part of the concealment is bull. They said, how could you live like this in dark rooms but there are a couple of windows, okay. In the summer you open the doors to let the light in but I wanted to get the four-year period out of the way before I applied.”
Hickinbotham goes on to explain that if you get the application approved, which he believed he would, that you can put in as many windows as you want. He claims to have abided by the rules as far as the time period went.
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