Muswell Hill couple slam planning laws as chipboard outhouse appears

Saskia Burke and the permitted development chipboard building that has been built next door in Muswell Hill

Saskia Burke and the permitted development chipboard building that has been built next door in Muswell Hill - Credit: Blanca Schofield

A Muswell Hill couple have hit out at the council’s powerlessness after a chipboard outhouse was built in a neighbouring garden under permitted development rights.

Paul and Saskia Burke, 58 and 59, are considering leaving their family home of 26 years because of the new structure overlooking their back garden.

The construction of such buildings without planning permission is allowed under the permitted development rights set out in a 2015 order, but the Burkes say the law comes at the expense of neighbourly relations.

Paul, a writer, said: “We’ve come from nothing – we had to work really hard to afford this house and we would hate to leave, but we just don’t want to live here anymore because of what our neighbours have done.”

A permitted development chipboard structure in a neighbouring Muswell Hill garden

A permitted development chipboard structure in a neighbouring Muswell Hill garden - Credit: Blanca Schofield

Saskia, an animation production executive, said: “Our son had to undergo treatment for testicular cancer this year, which spread to his lung, and when he moved back in I used to go to the bottom of my garden to cry – it was my little sanctuary. 

“But I don’t want to go there anymore because of that building looking over me. I don’t want to live here anymore.”

The government’s technical guidance for permitted development rights for householders says: “It is important that homeowners understand how they can exercise their rights to carry out development while protecting the interests of their neighbours and the wider environment.”

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The Burkes say they have tried to engage with their neighbours about the issue, without success.

A permitted development chipboard structure in a neighbouring Muswell Hill garden

A permitted development chipboard structure in a neighbouring Muswell Hill garden - Credit: Paul Burke

Councillor John Bevan, Haringey’s cabinet member for planning, licensing and housing services, said: “We have every sympathy for the family in question and readily acknowledge the toll this has taken on them.

“However, we equally recognise the rights of our residents and having inspected the structure our planning officers have advised that this permitted development structure is in accordance with national legislation and does not therefore need planning permission from the council. Therefore, the council is not permitted to take action on this issue.”

Approached for comment, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: "This is a matter for Haringey Council."

The neighbours with the outhouse were approached for comment.

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