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When you buy a house, the last thing you expect is for it to be ripped back down, but that's what is happening on a plot in the West Pennine moors after the properties were built up to a third bigger than agreed.
The five luxury £1 million mansions are now set to be torn down after a bitter, five year long planning row.
As well as being substantially bigger, the houses were also in different locations than originally agreed upon, a planning inquiry heard.
Bolton Council issued an enforcement notice for demolition in 2018 and a planning inspector has now given the householders 12 months to demolish the structures and return the site to its previous state.
At a previous hearing, homeowner Elan Raja said he paid £1,057,000 ($1.5m) for the plot in 2016 and claimed he has had since spent more than £215,000 ($305,000) on the rental of an alternative property and other costs.
He said he had suffered from severe stress and anxiety coping with the immense demands of the matter and had suffered cardiac problems as a result of the 'nightmare'.
The development began in 2014 when planning permission was granted for the conversion of a former farmhouse and four new homes around a central courtyard.
The stone-built exclusive homes were erected on a sprawling plot near Bolton, Greater Manchester. But finishing works were put on hold after a complaint was filed in October 2016, and Bolton Council found the houses were not being built in accordance with the planning permission.
The inquiry heard how plot one on the site had a 31 percent bigger footprint than allowed, plot two was 19 percent bigger, plot three 32 percent bigger and plot four 33 percent bigger.
An appeal against the decision claims the enforcement notice issued by the council to demolish the homes was excessive and too harsh to remedy any breach in planning regulations.
The owners now face the prospect of a 'fall back position', which is to demolish the existing buildings and rebuild in the correct areas to the correct size.
That planning permission, which is still in place, is for just four dwellings and conversion of the former farmhouse.
Developers Sparkle demolished the farmhouse and began building afresh and partially constructed four new homes in the wrong locations and with different dimensions than agreed, it was heard.
The inquiry considered two appeals from the house owners, one against the demolition enforcement and another to try and overturn a decision on a subsequent amended planning application. Both appeals were been dismissed earlier this week (19 May).
At the inquiry Bolton Council argued harm had been caused to the green belt. Their barrister Ian Ponter, said: "The character of the area is scattered farms, individual rural houses and groups of houses clustered into small villages located below the uplands.
"The original plans were expressly designed to be compatible with that settlement pattern. They were sensitively sited in a hamlet form of development."
In the decision notice, planning inspector Jason Whitfield said: "I find that this greater increase in built form would be harmful, both spatially and visually, when located in an area characterised by openness and on a site which, when considered at its baseline, is largely free of built form.
"As a consequence, considering all the evidence before me, I find the harm resulting to green belt openness from the appeals would be greater than any such harm resulting from the fall back position."
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