Man ordered to tear down 'hideous' balcony

The balcony at Mr Thistlethwaite's home.
The balcony at Mr Thistlethwaite's home.

A North Yorkshire man has been ordered to tear down a 'hideous' balcony after being told, wrongly, that he didn't need planning permission.

John Thistlethwaite, 64, was planning to build a glass and steel balcony at the back of his terraced home in Ingleton. He was initially told by Craven District Council's building control department that planning permission wasn't required, and started construction last year.

But it later turned out that the council had believed that he was replacing a first-floor extension; and that a first-floor balcony wasn't included in permitted development.

A bizarre balcony made out of fence panels then appeared, as Mr Thistlethwaite attempted to make the construction safe as he waited for his appeal to be heard.

"I could not just leave it as a drop. It needed to be fenced off as I have my grandchildren around," he tells the Daily Mail.

"One councillor did say it was hideous and I agree it is out of place, but I pointed out to them that what is currently on the house is temporary. The real balcony was going to be made of steel and glass."

He's now been told that he has until August to put things back the way they were.

It might seem surprising that a living-room extension would have been allowed, whereas a balcony wasn't. But, as the council planning officer explained, people don't generally stand at a window and stare out for hours on end in the way they might from a balcony.

Last year, the rules on permitted development were relaxed, making it easier for householders to alter or extend their properties.

Most notably, the amount by which a house can be extended has been doubled temporarily until 2019. You can now add an eight-metre extension to a detached house, for example, without needing planning permission. Loft conversions are generally permitted too.

But there are a number of rules and restrictions, especially in conservation areas or for listed buildings, so it's important to check whether or not your project would pass muster: there's more information here.

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