A GRANDMA is being forced to demolish her £50,000 extension by the local council.
Linda Webb, 66, is refusing to tear down the single-storey rear extension on her home in Wraysbury in an ongoing spat with Windsor and Maidenhead Council.
The stress from the ordeal, which began over two years ago, is giving Linda sleepless nights and even worsening her arthritis.
The council ordered her to undo the building work by January 2022 because it was built without planning permission on Green Belt land.
In 2019, she spent her inheritance on extending her living room out onto her patio, creating an open space with sliding doors and skylights for her growing family to spend time together.
The grandmother-of-two was “convinced” by the builders, who told her she definitely didn’t need planning permission.
However, a nosy neighbour took photos of the contractors going in and out of Linda’s driveway and reported her extension to the parish council.
Since then, Linda’s applications for planning permission have been rejected and all her appeals dismissed.
She said: “It’s just got to the stage where I don’t sleep. I wake up in the night and then everything goes through my head and then I wake up the next day tired again. This has been ongoing for two years.”
“I honestly think it has aged me because I'm not as well and I think a lot of that is due to just living in tension the whole time.
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“I get an achy jaw and back – a lot of that's because I'm holding myself tense all the time, the muscles lock up.
“Before a lot of this I used to go on huge long walks for miles and miles and miles, I can't do it now. It does seem that throughout all of this I've not been able to do the things I wanted to do.”
I just can't understand why it's such a bad thing. It's not like I’ve built another house on my land.
Linda’s extension cost in the region of £50,000, but she may have to fork out even more than this again to demolish it.
She said: “My mum died a few years ago and she left me some money. I thought it'd be a nice way to use it doing this.
“The big thing is I've taken some of my pension out – I might have to use it to take down what I’ve built.”
The extension has brought Linda’s family together and is also a space where she can feel part of nature.
She said: “I just can't understand why it's such a bad thing. It's not like I’ve built another house on my land.
“The garden has really been my full recreation. Now that I can't do as much, we thought it would be a good idea that brings me into the garden.
“Even if I can't do a lot in the summer I can open these doors and I feel I’m in the garden, protected from the sun if need be, but I can potter in and out without having to do too much.
She added: “My life has always been with my family more than anything else – first, second, and last really.
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"My father comes up, the children come up. They all love being here because they love the garden and it's such a happy place and a family place.
“They've even got me to do board games, which I hate, but we do them here as a family and it's quite fun.”
Linda believes she is being punished for applying for retrospective planning permission after she’d started building, as most neighbouring properties also have extensions and other outbuildings.
In her second application, Linda even proposed to reduce her overall floor space by demolishing her garage in order to keep her beloved extension – but this request was also denied.
She said: “They do seem sort of gleeful – which sounds awful – but it does seem to be that way, ‘Haha we've won, you’ve got to take it down’.
I do feel that the parish council are pushing very heavily to make an example.
“I don't actually understand why, but I do feel that the parish council are pushing very heavily to make an example.
“What I don't understand in that report, is that the council said, ‘Yeah we try to work with people when they’re doing planning’, but there's been no communication, nobody's trying to work with us. I’ve contacted a couple of councillors, who I'm hoping will try to help.”
Linda was close to tears when asked what she will do.
She said: “I don't know. I'm just so worried.”
COUNCIL CRACKS DOWN
A council spokesperson said: “Planning applications can only be decided in line with planning policy, alongside consideration of feedback from stakeholders, including residents.
“The onus is on owners and developers to follow planning policy and controls, seek early guidance from the council if needed and ensure they have in place any relevant consents or authorisation before undertaking works.
“The council issues enforcement notices if it believes there has been a breach of planning control and it is expedient to take formal action.
“In making a decision to issue such notices, the council is at all times guided by, and acting in accordance with, planning law and National and Local planning policies.
“In this case, the enforcement notice has also been upheld on appeal by an Inspector who agreed with the council’s case.
“When investigating an alleged breach of planning control, our planning enforcement team always seek to contact the owner or occupier of the site in question, engage with them and seek to work with them so that steps can be taken to remedy any such breaches.”
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