Long Itchington couple ordered to demolish home disguised as garage

Mr Hickinbotham said he intends to appeal the result
Mr Hickinbotham said he intends to appeal the result

A couple who built a house disguised as a garage have been ordered to tear it down.

Jackie Shearsby, 55, and partner Peter Hickinbotham, 68, built the two-bed home in their garden after buying a crumbling house only fit for demolition.

The lounge area

The lounge area

The double garage door fixed to the front simply hides a wall at the property in Long Itchington.

From all other angles the building sports windows, a porch area and even a pitched roof.

The pair lived in it for more than four years from April 2012 until they were caught out when they contacted planners themselves to apply for retrospective planning permission last December.

On Friday September 15 the couple were ordered to pay Stratford-on-Avon District Council £7,145.65 in court costs.

The kitchen area

The kitchen area

Nuneaton Magistrates Court also made an enforcement order against the couple forcing them to return the building back to a garage.

JPs heard the couple made a retrospective application on December 15 last year for permission to turn the garage into a "habitable residential dwelling."

The couple admitted they converted the property in June 2011 and moved in full-time in April 2012.

The court ruled that the couple had breached planning laws, adding that there had been a "deliberate concealment".

Peter Hickinbotham defended his decision to hide his home inside a garage to dodge planning laws and vowed to appeal the court decision.

He said he plans to appeal the court's decision, but holds little hope of being successful.

Speaking from the two-bedroom bungalow - which appears to look like a garage on the outside - he said: “I’m very disappointed.

“I thought I would have got it through planning but they’ve come up with some cock-and-bull story about concealment.

“The government say after four years you can apply for full planning so after four and a half years I applied.

“They looked outside saying the conifers are hiding it, the gates and fence are hiding it but they’d been there for 30 years.

“Obviously trees grow, they were planted in 2009.

“They were three years old when they were at six foot, so that part of concealment is bull."

Cllr Simon Lawton, Chairman of Regulatory Committee said: "Planning regulations are there to protect against unauthorised development.

"The council will consider this Court process to prevent breaches becoming immune from enforcement action where a breach has been deliberately concealed to avoid enforcement action."