News courtesy of Yahoo Finance UK – Tue, Nov 26, 2013 14:18
A council has ordered the demolition of a garden house for students after a landlord tried to beat planning laws by putting a kitchen in a toilet.
Property developer Tony Waite, 68, has been accused of taking advantage of the housing shortage by renting out a concrete outbuilding in Cambridge.
He says he originally constructed the annex as a music room for his son’s girlfriend but within months it was converted into a makeshift home and was being rented out.
The concrete outbuilding has three bedrooms, a kitchen and a bathroom and stands just yards from the main house, a three-bedroom semi. Mr Waite leases rooms in the annex to students but he was ordered to stop earlier this year when officers from Cambridge City Council made an impromptu visit.
In a bid to avoid a demolition order he moved the building’s kitchen into a wooden shed yards away, which was already home to a toilet.
Mr. Waite claimed the toilet was installed for people working on the site and the kitchen was only stored in the tiny space as a temporary measure and not properly fitted.
But council officials have refused to change their minds and have ordered him to demolish the three-bed annex – which also had a toilet – within eight months.
Mr Waite, from St. Albans, Herts., said he is “disappointed” by the decision and intends to lodge an appeal.
He said: “The kitchen was temporary and was moved into the shed holding the toilet so the tenants didn’t have to all use the kitchen in the main house.
“The toilet was promptly removed and nobody defecated in the kitchen if that’s what you’re thinking. I don’t know what the council’s main grievance is but I am disappointed by the decision. I intend to appeal and I will not let my tenants become homeless.”
The lack of affordable housing in the Cambridge is an increasing problem with thousands of tenants desperately scrapping for a handful of available homes. It has led property developers to try and take advantage of a bursting market by renting out renovated garages and sheds.
Labour councillor Lewis Herbert said the council need to make sure people don’t take advantage of the shortage in affordable housing.
He said: “Near Heathrow there have been hundreds of these developments hidden away in the middle of sites but it¹s necessary that we have rules saying everybody should have planning permission. There have to be controls to make sure these places are safe and reasonable, especially in a city where there’s such a shortage of accommodation that people will live wherever they can find.”
Lib-Dem Sarah Brown added: “It seems a fairly clear-cut case to me that it was separate accommodation and moving the kitchen into an outside toilet doesn’t change that. I have never seen anything like that in three-and-a-half years of evaluating planning applications and I hope it is a one-off.”
Mr Waite had first tried to convert an outbuilding in 2010 when he saw two applications to build a bungalow on the site of a garage rejected. He then started building a new single-storey property which now has three bedrooms, a lounge, a kitchen and a bathroom. It was then that Mr Waite removed the kitchen and placed it in a separate shed – claiming its removal demonstrated the building’s residents used facilities in the main house. Mr. Waite currently lets out the main house to two tenants and has a further two in his annex.