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Conservatory order is the final straw
1:00pm Tuesday 3rd September 2013 in Echo News
A WOMAN who is dealing with her husband’s terminal cancer says she has been ordered to tear down two conservatories behind her home.
Janet Church, 53, said she was struggling to cope with the latest blow to hit her family–a demand she spends thousands removing the conservatories from her home, in Western Road, Billericay.
They were put up 18 months ago to provide more livingspace after Mrs Church moved there with her husband and daughter to be close to her newly-widowed mother, Rose, 78.
Mrs Church’s husband, John, 56, was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer two years ago.
She said: “This couldn’t have come at a worse time.
“John is not well and this is just added stress he doesn’t need. I need help.”
After moving in, the family extended the house, splitting it so Mrs Church’s mother had her own living space, and adding the conservatories.
A council building inspector visited to check the soundness of the extension, but Mrs Church said he voiced no concerns about the conservatories.
Six months ago, a planning officer called and Mrs Church claims he told her he thought the structure “ought to be fine”
but he would check with his boss and let her know if there wasaproblem.
She said: “We didn’t hear anything, so we assumed everything was fine.”
The next she heard from the council wasaletter, asking her to call its offices.
When she phoned, Mrs Churchwas toldshewould have to remove the £14,000 conservatories. She added: “My husband used to be on good money, but now he has cancer, we are on benefits and can’t afford to take them down. It’s not harming anyone. We’re living in hell. I just want the council to leave us alone.”
Cllr Richard Moore, cabinet member for planning, said: “Whilst we empathise with the sad personal circumstances of this case, the development of two conservatories in addition to the extension is an over development of the site that is inappropriate for the area.
“On top of this it has been constructed without planning permission. The council has to take a consistent approach in all planning matters.
“The residents and their planning agent have been advised by council officers they would be unlikely to receive planning permission, and therefore be required to remove the buildings. However they do of course have the right to submit a retrospective planning application for the conservatories which would be judged on its merits.
“The onus is on all property owners to check whether they need to get planning permission before embarking on projects such as this.“
With regards to the council officer visits, a Basildon Council spokesman said: “Building control staff, who work under a different set of regulations to planning staff would have visited the property to check the extension, but they would not be aware if the resident had planning permission or not for the conservatories, and could reasonably assume that they had, with the foundations being in place.
“The planning control officer who attended following a complaint, made it clear that he would have to present the case to his manager and that could result in action being taken.”
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