Mat Waybourne, a 42-year-old construction worker from Tupsley in Herefordshire, has been told that he must destroy the gardenplayhouse he built for his seven-year-old daughter Lily, and 12-year old son Joseph.
According to the Western Daily Press, the project has been a labour of love for months. It took a total of 30 hours to build, and cost Mat £800. It features a ladder leading to a balcony, which in turn leads to a cabin on the top. It is squeezed in between the shed and the trampoline, to make the most of the garden space, and is 15 feet tall.
The Daily Mail reported that unfortunately for Mat, he didn't get planning permission for the structure, and anything over 13.1 feet needs permission before it is built. The council received complaints from neighbours, who said the structure overlooked their homes, and as a result it contacted Mat and told him to take it down.
He says he is planning an appeal.
Not the first
Playhouses are becoming increasingly popular. As parents are less keen to let their children play out in local parks or in the street, they are under pressure to make the garden a more entertaining place to be. In many cases in such an unreliable climate, indoor space is considered the dream. A study for GoCompare a few years ago asked people to name the projects they were most keen to complete in the garden, and building a playhouse made it to number 10.
Parents don't think to check planning regulations, because they don't imagine a playhouse will cause anyone any problems. However, as Mat discovered, you need to be careful.
We reported last February on the grandfather from Cinderford in Gloucester, who got carried away building a playhouse in his back garden. The enormous finished structure featured a bowling alley, soft play, cinema, gym and squash court. Unfortunately, the neighbours complained, and the council investigated. They decided the building was too big and out of keeping, and ordered him to demolish it.
A couple of months earlier, a family in Edinburgh faced the same fate as Mat. They also built a playhouse on stilts without planning permission, a neighbour complained, and the council insisted that they tear it down.
There is, however, good news for wannabe playhouse builders. If you conform to the planning rules, and apply for any permission you need, then you can build your dream playhouse. In 2012, JK Rowing received permission to build two 40 foot high £250,000 Hogwarts-Style treehouse in her garden - complete with secret tunnels and a rope bridge. So it is possible to build your dreams