Unsanctioned Willenhall house which made life “hell” for neighbors ordered to be torn down

A home-owner who made life “hell” for neighbors by building a huge brand new house to replace his modest Willenhall semi without permission will have to demolish the property. Walsall Council’s planning committee ordered Gurwinder Singh to take down the partially-completed four bedroom house on the corner of Sandringham Avenue and Arundel Road.

At a meeting on Thursday members heard how permission had been granted for an extension to the house. But instead the applicant demolished the original property and started constructing a new one last year. Enforcement officers said the new build had caused hardship to neighbors and was unacceptable in terms of size and scale. They added although demolition was a “last resort”, alternative measures were not viable.

A retrospective application was submitted but this has since been withdrawn. Mr Singh has submitted a fresh application in the past two weeks and this is currently waiting to be validated as officers await coal mining reports. Committee chairman Mike Bird said he was “sick and tired” of people breaking regulations and vowed to ‘put the force back into enforcement’.

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When neighbors objected to the retrospective planning application, there were claims of damage to the neighboring property. A petition carrying 95 signatures was also submitted against the work. Ward Councilor Stacie Elson, who has raised concerns about the issue, said the episode had caused “distress in the community”.

Frank Whiteley, senior planning enforcement officer said: “It is acknowledged demolition might be considered a last resort option and because of that it is important to consider proportionality. In officers’ opinion, it would be very difficult to alter the existing structure without prolonged additional work and prolong the disruption which cause an amenity impact to the area.

“It is considered the amount of work required to alter the dwelling to achieve an acceptable outcome would be very similar to demolition. Essentially there is no immediate prospect of an acceptable solution being found and on these terms, demolition is considered proportionate and reasonable on its own planning merits. “

The original semi-detached home on Sandringham Avenue.

Councilor Bird said: “This is a very serious situation. An extension was approved and what we got was a brand new house to the detriment of the adjoining neighbor. Walsall Council is going to put ‘force’ back into enforcement. I am sick and tired of seeing breaches of planning regulations around the borough because people think ‘I do that because I can’.

“This committee are telling you now, you can not do it because we will not let you. When we find out, we will prosecute you. Adjoining neighbors have suffered hell. There has been a lack of co-operation from day one so I welcome the enforcement.

“We’ve got to be shown to make a stand against people who think they can build anything they like in relation to the planning permission they receive. Well, it stops here.”

Work carried out to build a huge new home on Sandringham Avenue without planning permission.
Work carried out to build a huge new home on Sandringham Avenue without planning permission.

Willenhall North Councilor Adam Hicken added: “Thanks to Stacie Elson for the work she has put into this. The way this has gone about is horrific. It is way beyond the scope of what was originally agreed. It, as it currently stands, is just a ruin quite frankly.

“The impact it has had on neighbors has been terrible. Even from a neutral point of view, all members should share the disgust in the way this has been done.”

In the now withdrawn retrospective planning application, Mr Singh’s agents Architecture and Interior Design Ltd said: “Unfortunately, while work was being carried out the builders on site removed most of the existing walls of the residential.

“This meant that the building required new brick work and when enforcement got involved they suggested that to fix the issue the site should go through the application process again as a retrospective planning.” They added the completed family home would make a positive impact in the surrounding area.

Planning committee voted unanimously in favor of supporting enforcement to demolish the property.

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