A woman from Cornwall has been forced to completely demolish her new house as it wasn’t built with planning permission.

The two-storey timber property in question was located in Terras Crossing near Looe which has now been completely demolished. Sue Wilesmith has estimated that she has lost around £150,000 in costs, and that is not taking into account the £200,000 for the cost of the land, which she purchased in 2012 and included two derelict buildings. She said:

“People have been shocked to see that it’s been taken down. We just assumed we could renovate and refurbish the buildings.”

Sue also said that once she had purchased the land, that one of the derelict buildings which was a former lock-keeper’s cottage has to be rebuilt. However, she did not apply for planning permission to Cornwall Council. She said:

“It looked like it had rendered walls, but I soon realised that beneath the plaster, the walls were only held together by chicken wire and corrugated iron,” she added. “The only thing holding up the roof was a single beam. It was like a game of Jenga.

“I didn’t really consider planning permission. I was more concerned with the structure.”

Sue went on to say that she decided to rebuild the cottage with a new building made from timber which would be an extra metre taller than previously. However, when she had completed the work, Cornwall Council were notified and began enforcement action against the rebuilt property. She said:

“I applied for a certificate of lawful use but that was rejected.

“Then I applied for retrospective planning permission, but they weren’t having any of that.

“I just couldn’t get anyone to sit down and have a conversation with me. I don’t feel hard done by, but I do feel, if you read anything about how a planning department should behave, I think they were a bit harsh not having a conversation with me about coming to some arrangement.”

Although admitting her mistake in not obtaining planning permission, she went on to say:

“As much as it was a beautiful building, and it was lovely inside, I can actually see their point of view. I did however think the building was in keeping with the area, being made of timber and as a lodge among the trees.

“I do agree the building looked too tall and, looking at it now, I’d like to be able to put a single-storey building there.”

After losing a court case, Sue was unfortunately fined £6,500 and was ordered to remove the buildings as well as two points of vehicle access to the plot. However, Sue has said that these were already there and that she would be contesting the issue.

It is important to remember that if you are making changes to a building or looking to construct a completely new structure, that you obtain planning permission through your local council. Here at Martin Perry Associates, we can help you with your planning applications in Cornwall and the surrounding area. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch on 01579 345777.