Bungalow battler wins his fight to keep a tiny home

AFTER eight years and thousands of pounds in legal fees a dogged landlord has won his battle to stop Haringey Council from tearing down his Highgate bungalow

Ben McPartland

AFTER eight years and thousands of pounds in legal fees a dogged landlord has won his battle to stop Haringey Council from tearing down his Highgate bungalow.

Seven years ago developer Peter Romer built a bungalow on wasteland in Cholmeley Park without the necessary planning permission.

Planning bosses threw out his late application and in December 2006 he lost his appeal against Haringey Council's enforcement notice and was ordered to knock it down within six months.

His battle left residents in Cholmeley Park divided, some thinking he should be taught a lesson for going ahead without permission and others glad to see a patch of rat infested wasteland put to good use.

But the bulldozers never moved in and Mr Romer continued his fight to keep his bungalow and was recently granted permission by his former enemies at the Town Hall to keep a slightly modified version of it.

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He said: "I was surprised they actually gave me permission in the end. I feel vindicated. It should never have been refused, but this has cost me around £20,000 in legal fees.

"I was surprised they issued an enforcement notice in the first place because the people said they were happy with what I had done there. The site was totally derelict before.

"There is no law saying you cannot build without planning permission. I know it sounds ludicrous but that is the way it is."

The Highgate Society had previously supported Haringey's enforcement notice. Environment spokesman Michael Hammerson said: "Planning laws are there for a reason. It shouldn't have been built. If one person gets away with this then everyone would."

Mr Romer had accused planners and Highgate councillors of having a vendetta against him.

He said: "They should have been supporting me right from the beginning. I improved the area and was supported by the local community and the local councillors are supposed to act on their behalf."

A council spokesman added: "When considering such applications we are bound by strict planning regulations, and under these regulations the issue of whether the original building had been constructed without planning permission could not be a determining factor.

"The approved scheme is for a low-profile single storey dwelling, with a 'green roof,' which will have very little impact on the appearance of Cholmeley Park.

"This has been a prolonged case, much of which could have been avoided had the applicant applied for planning permission in the usual way before starting construction."

Haringey's head of planning Paul Tomkins said: "The proposed partial reduction and alterations to this existing unauthorised structure are considered to be acceptable as they address the previous concerns raised in 2005, namely the effect of the development upon the character and appearance of the Highgate Conservation Area."