A father has to tear down the £3,000 playhouse he built for his children after a ‘farcical’ 14-month planning battle with the council.
Francis Peters, 59, built the 11.5 ft tall by 16 ft wide structure in the garden of his ex-wife’s home in Maisemore, Gloucestershire, in September 2018.
But after several objections from neighbours, Mr Peters’ retrospective planning application has been rejected, and he has been told to take the playhouse down.
Mr Peters, who runs Cotswold Stonecraft, and his ex-partner Sian spent around £3,000 initially to build it for their children David, 12, and Grace, seven.
Francis Peters, 59, built the 11.5 ft tall by 16 ft wide structure in the garden of his ex-wife’s home in Maisemore, Gloucestershire, in September 2018
After several objections from neighbours, Mr Peters’ retrospective planning application has been rejected
But a month later, Tewkesbury Borough Council told Mr Peters the play area was in breach of planning regulations.
Since then, Mr Peters claims he has moved the structure five times around his ex-partner’s garden – and has been told in writing four times that the council would allow the playhouse as long as he moved it to a different part of the garden.
Mr Peters said: ‘We wanted to build a treehouse for our children while they were still young enough to enjoy it.
‘I have been absolutely gobsmacked that there has been this much fuss over a treehouse, it has been a complete farce.
‘My kids are very upset. They’ve stopped playing in the treehouse now because of all the stress this has caused us.’
Mr Peters said he has spent almost £6,000 so far on architects’ drawings to re-plan the structure, and on submitting a retrospective planning application.
But, following objections from neighbours, the planning application has now been rejected by Tewkesbury Borough Council, with concerns over neighbouring properties losing their privacy.
One objection from neighbours stated: ‘We are having to deal with people clambering on this structure, staring and intimidating us, and clearly enjoying the fact that they can drive us from our garden at anytime we are out there’
Another objection said that the structure (pictured) would ‘be better built at ground level’
He said: ‘The problem I have is with the way we’ve been dealt with. It’s been really, really terrible.
‘I’ve ripped the garden apart trying to move this structure – there was three or four months last winter where the kids couldn’t even go out into the back garden.
‘I’ve been ill-advised by the council. They’ve said in four different contracts that they will permit the structure if I follow their conditions, and I absolutely have.
‘As far as I can see, these are watertight contracts.’
And he said that his children have been left ‘really upset’ over the situation.
He said: ‘When I first put the treehouse up, we couldn’t get Grace to stop playing in it. She was incredibly excited. She would set up her little tent in the playhouse and would play with her Paw Patrol toys out there.
‘David was really into the monkey bars.
‘But now they’ve both lost interest, because of the neighbours peering at them out of windows, taking photos of the treehouse.’
The applicants insist they have worked with Tewkesbury Borough Council to mitigate the concerns over the playhouse, including moving the structure from one side of the garden to the other
And he added that Sian, who suffers with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (or ME), has been ‘a mess’ over the planning row.
He said: ‘Sian has really struggled with this, she bursts into tears over the whole situation.
‘She’s quite a nervous person, and she’s had neighbours on the doorstep, shouting at her, getting angry, making complaints about our kids. She can’t deal with it.
‘I am finding it difficult emotionally having been dealing with this for 14 months.
‘There are also financial implications, we have spent thousands of pounds to build the treehouse and more again to work with the council on their issues with it.
‘I’ve had to spend days away from work to be in the garden trying to get this sorted, and with Christmas coming up I need to be earning money.
‘This has taken up every solitary week of my life for the last 14 months.’
One objection from neighbours stated: ‘We are having to deal with people clambering on this structure, staring and intimidating us, and clearly enjoying the fact that they can drive us from our garden at anytime we are out there.’
Another objection raised that the playhouse would ‘be better built at ground level’.
Mr Peters has urged Tewkesbury Borough Council to rethink their decision to reject planning permission, and will be appealing the decision
The applicants insist they have worked with Tewkesbury Borough Council to mitigate the concerns over the treehouse, including moving the structure from one side of the garden to the other.
Mr Peters has urged Tewkesbury Borough Council to rethink their decision to reject planning permission, and will be appealing the decision.
He is now looking for a legal representative to take on his case, and help him win back the money he has lost.
The council have said the structure will now need to be pulled down to comply with planning regulations.
Annette Roberts, Head of Development Services at Tewkesbury Borough Council, said: ‘A structure of this nature can impact on residents’ enjoyment of their homes and gardens.
‘This is why planning regulations are in place and must be respected.
‘On this occasion, the structure was built without planning permission, so a retrospective application was submitted.
‘This was refused by the council’s planning committee due to the impact on neighbouring properties.
‘A second application followed and was also refused for the same reasons.
‘In order to rectify the situation, the council now requires the structure to be dismantled and, if this does not happen, will need to use its powers to ensure compliance.’