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Unauthorised Porch..

Postby dusty42 » Wed May 16, 2012 10:04 am

Hi all,

Last year I built a porch on the front of my house. I looked into what I was allowed to do without seeking planning permission and attempted to stick to the rules. The porch is now finished, but a few weeks ago I got a letter from the council describing it as an unauthorised porch. Apparently someone had complained and a planning officer had been out to look at it. The letter stated that the porch was 3.24m tall when only allowed to be 3m.

I sought guidance from the planning officer on how this was measured, he initially told me on the phone that it was from the 'base of the wooden structure' to the highest point of the ridge. I checked this measurement and it seems to be slightly over, as in less than 10cm. So I replied to the guy asking whether it would be ok just to fit flatter sitting ridge tiles(changing the pitch of the roof would be a major job now that it's tiled and the inside is all finished).

The planning officer has taken a few weeks to respond to this and is now saying that the height is measuresed from 'natural ground level'. I am not sure what this means. The concrete base of my porch matches the floor level of the house. But my front garden slopes away, so the concretet base if partially exposed especially at the furthest point from the house.

I understand that planning officers have a job to do, but making me make major alterations to the porch which only slightly infringes the rules seems a bit petty.

Can anyone suggest a way to fix this? I assume I am not allowed to alter the ground level surrounding the porch, so that there is a built up area which conceals the concrete base?

Changing th pitch of the roof would pretty much be like starting again on the whole thing.
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Postby tony.g » Sat Jun 16, 2012 7:09 pm

Hi Dusty42.
You may have resolved this problem by now, but in case you haven't, you don't have anything to worry about.
The council can ony take enforcement action against your porch 'if it is expedient to do so'.
There are strict guidlines which councils have to follow before commencing enforcement action. It is clearly stated in these guidelines that enforcement is not appropriate 'for a minor or technical breach where no harm has occured'.
It would be very easy to argue that 0.24m (8") is a 'minor' breach, particularly if it is a pitched roof where only a small portion will be above the 3m limit.
If a council is foolish enough to attempt enforcement in a case such as this, they are liable for your costs of an appeal should they loose (which they probably would for such a minor breach).
Google PPG 18 and see for yourself.
My advice would be to go back to the council, tell them you have no intention of altering it (or applying for retrospective planning permission) and refer them to PPG 18.
Good luck.
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Postby dusty42 » Mon Jun 18, 2012 8:22 am

Thanks for the reply tony..

I sent a long email to the planning officer asking him to reconsider/use his discretion a few weeks ago. Not heard anything back as of yet.

I'm hoping he might just decide it's not worth doing anything about. Do you have experience of fighting the council in a similar situation?

I'll have to contact him before my date for starting alterations comes around, if he's not backing down I'll keep in mind what you have said!
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Postby gc9 » Fri Jun 29, 2012 11:07 am

Hi dusty42 I would be really grateful if you share your future dealings with the council as I have similar problem. By the way thank you tony.g for revealing this information. I was pretty scared until I read your stuff.
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