Building expert Neil Woodward loses six-year battle with Sutton Council over games room
A building expert has been fined thousands of pounds after losing his six-year planning feud with Sutton Council over an illegal back garden development.
Neil Woodward, was fined £8,000 at Croydon Crown Court last week after breaching the Town and Country Planning Act when he built a summer house at the end of his garden.
The father-of-four will also have to foot the council's £12,000 legal bill for the court case after pleading guilty to the offence on Friday.
Mr Woodward, who has lived his property for 25 years, demolished a garage in 2005 as it had asbestos in its roof, but rather than replacing it with a building the same size, Mr Woodward erected a games room, as he has called it, four feet longer than the original.
When three neighbours complained to the council in 2006 the legal battle began which culminated in last week's court case.
Mr Woodward denies he ever intended to rent out the 30 tonne property out to tenants, but had initially wanted the building, which has a working toilet, to be a summer house for his daughters if they wanted to stay over.
After being hit with the fine last week, Mr Woodward, 67, claimed he had been treated "appallingly" by the council.
He said: "It was simply supposed to be a games room, or somewhere my daughters could stay if they wanted to, I never wanted to rent it out to anyone. The whole six year legal process has been ridiculous."
Councillor Jayne McCoy, chairwoman of the housing, economy and business committee, said: "We take a dim view of developers who flout planning laws and seek to circumvent the proper process causing misery to their long suffering neighbours in the meantime - in this case for six years. For their sake we have felt that it is important to see this case through to the end."
It follows Sutton Council earlier this month slamming Government proposals to relax planning laws to allow people to build extentions in back gardens.
If the proposals become law, residential properties would be able to expand by eight metres without planning permission.