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Vale of Health cottage built without planning permission 'must be pulled down' - inspector

PUBLISHED: 07:59 19 September 2019 | UPDATED: 08:06 19 September 2019

Bren Cottage in the Vale of Health. Picture: Polly Hancock

Bren Cottage in the Vale of Health. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

A woman whose controversial Heath-side cottage has drawn the ire of Camden's planners must pull her home down after a planning inspector ruled against her.

The Vale of Health. Picture: Polly HancockThe Vale of Health. Picture: Polly Hancock

Jita Lukka bought the South Fairground site in late 2016 and made her home there.

Her cottage, she claimed, was "essentially the same structure" as buildings created there by a number of squatters in the years before she bought the land.

However Camden Council, and the City of London Corporation, the Heath and Hampstead Society and the Vale of Health Society all disagreed - and inspector J A Murray ruled in favour of the alliance of local groups.

The inspector's ruling means an enforcement notice served by Camden Council in 2018 stands and that Ms Lukka must now dismantle her one-storey home and "make good" the plot.

The back gate of Bren Cottage, thought to be named for Jita Lukka's dog. Picture: Polly HancockThe back gate of Bren Cottage, thought to be named for Jita Lukka's dog. Picture: Polly Hancock

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Ms Lukka's case rested on there having been a "substantially complete" house on the site before December 20, 2013. The inquiry received evidence from former squatter on the site Robbie Litvai and regular visitors to the site - including Mr Litvai's friend Robert Cochran.

Mr Cochran confirmed to the inquiry that a room connecting two outbuilding-style structures, known as the Music Box and the Studio by Mr Litvai, did not exist in 2016.

The inspector ruled: "The indication that Robbie Litvai sometimes slept on a yoga mat or futon in the Music Box before the relevant date does not persuade me, on the balance of probability, that it was a substantially completed dwelling by then."

Mark Hutchinson, chair of the Heath and Hampstead Society, added: "We very much welcome the decision by the inspector that the illegal and unsightly house must be demolished.

"The society, with the Vale of Health Society, had a key role in this inquiry since it was the societies who were able to produce the critical and direct evidence of the ramshackle structure that was previously on the site and that that structure was still being built by Robbie Litvai in 2016, well within the four-year limitation period for the council's 2017 enforcement notice."

Ms Lukka, who will now have to comply with the enforcement notice, has not responded to this newspaper's request for comment.

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