House built illegally has been four-year nightmare for neighbours

Birmingham: House on Walsall Road to be demolished

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Residents say the house has been a blot on the landscape since it was built without planning permission in Walsall, West Midlands, in 2019. The partially-built property has been left with gaping holes in its structure and an unfinished roof, while the front garden – which is strewn with building rubble – has been fenced off amid safety concerns about children accessing the site.

Jo Perry, who lives next door with her daughter, husband and dogs, claimed her living room wall was almost knocked through during the building work, while her upstairs bedroom was flooded due to the rainwater running off the neighbouring property’s roof.

The 51-year-old accountant said: “It has been a nightmare living next to the property. What the homeowner has done next door has been a huge expense to us. Then you have got the mess and the dust. It looks horrendous.”

The owner of the property next door was granted planning permission for a two-storey side extension, loft conversion with rear dormer window and single-storey front extension in February 2018, Black Country Live reports.

But, after it was granted, Walsall Council began receiving complaints from neighbours about the building work.

The Tory-controlled authority said in a statement that it discovered “the owners had effectively demolished the original dwelling and replaced it with a larger structure.”

Among the concerns raised was that the owner had failed to make the structure watertight, causing “damp issues at the neighbouring properties”, said the council.

A new planning application was submitted by the homeowner – asking for further modifications to the property including a hipped roof and garage – but that was subsequently rejected by planning chiefs.

The matter was escalated when Walsall Council issued an enforcement notice in November 2018, ordering the homeowner to demolish the “unauthorised dwelling” and clear all waste from the site.

But the homeowner failed to act on that legal notice and now the council has taken matters into its own hands, using its powers to enforce a “planning directive” that will see contractors demolish the building on its behalf.

Mrs Perry claims a man owns the property but hasn’t seen him in at least six months.

She added: “It is very rare that anybody even turns up to the property now. The problem that we do have is, because of the fencing, there are children that run into the property and climb up the scaffolding.

“There is a huge danger there because the building is not safe. It has been in this state since March 2019.”

Photographs on Google Street View show how the property, which is in the south of Walsall, looked before it was redeveloped.

In 2014, the house was intact, with a light coloured exterior, brown garage door, brown window pains and a brick-tiled driveway.

Today, the property sits as a half-finished project, with large holes at the front of the exterior where two upstairs windows and a downstairs window should be, enabling passers-by to look right through the house into the garden behind.

On the front garden, piles of bricks and planks of wood lie scattered between metal fencing, with some sections of the fence standing at an angle, while the roof is missing tiles.

Mum-of-one Mrs Perry said: “It has been horrendous living next to the property because it has been built and knocked down several times.

“Yes, he has had planning permission for a certain build but then he has built something else.

“He built something he shouldn’t have done, this is why it is in the state that it is now.

“He has damaged our property. At one point we thought our living room wall was coming in because they were knocking bricks through from the other side.

“It is a good job we were in the property because I think they would have knocked the wall down.

“We were screaming at them through the walls to stop. My husband went running round to try and stop him knocking through, otherwise it would have come through.”

Mrs Perry continued: “There has been damage to the chimney, damage to the roof.

“This time last year, we had water pouring in through our bedroom ceiling because they hadn’t put a lining on their roof.

“When it was really raining, we had got water pouring through. It has just been horrendous.

“It has actually cost us a fortune in repairs. Because it is so open and exposed, we have had mould growing in all of the bedrooms upstairs and we have had to redecorate a couple of times in all rooms.”

Walsall Council leader, Cllr Mike Bird, who is also chair of Walsall’s planning committee, added: “The planning system exists to protect us all and prevent the building of unregulated and unsafe structures.

“Whilst this is a last resort measure, the neighbours, in this case, have had to endure years of misery and uncertainty and I hope this action will now resolve the matter.

“I would add that Walsall Council will not tolerate this kind of unacceptable development and will take all necessary steps to uphold the Planning system.”

Council documents show that the name of the applicant was called Hasham Raoof. Attempts were made to contact the applicant.

No date has yet been set when the demolition will take place.

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