An entrepreneur has won a bitter planning row for the right to use her new £20,000 back garden shed as a creche.
Holly Fitzsimons, from Ingleby Barwick, North Yorkshire, built the wooden cabin for her Little Oaks childminding business, prompting a neighbour to complain it would be noisy and ‘out of character’ with the neighborhood
The 27-year-old claims she contacted the council prior to building the shed and was informed she did not need planning permission.
However, following the complaint from her neighbor, Ms. Fitzsimons said the council told her she did in fact need permission to use the building for work purposes and that they would seize the property.
Ms Fitzsimons spent £7,000 battling Stockton Council after a retrospective bid for permission was refused in 2020 and the authority launched enforcement action.
But the mother of one, who cared for key workers’ children during the pandemic, has now won her fight after an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate overturned the notice and secured planning permission for the wooden outhouse.
‘It was horrendous. I spent a total of £27K on the building and the battle. I could have spent that on my mortgage or on my daughter.
‘It went on for three and a half years, it was very stressful. I was pregnant during some of the dispute which added extra stress.
‘People have bars in their back garden without planning permission but mine was for a childminding business.
‘I could understand if it was a nightclub or loud but it was used during business hours or for family at the weekends.
‘I’ve never had any issues with other neighbors and most of them didn’t complain about cars being in the street or the shed. It doesn’t restrict anyone’s view either.’
In its initial refusal, the council argued the building had been created ‘for the sole purpose of being a child-minding facility’, and therefore needed permission in its own right.
Planning inspector Roy Merrett agreed a ‘change of use’ of the building had occurred – and that the main use of the cabin was for the childminding business.
But he didn’t agree the cabin was ‘out of character’ with the neighborhood, nor did he believe noise from youngsters would bring harm to neighbors.
Conditions in return for the permission will see a requirement to widen the property’s driveway in the next three months to accommodate visitors. Hours will be limited from 7.30am to 6pm Monday to Friday, with no business opening at weekends.
No more than six children will be allowed to attend at any one time.
Cllr Nigel Cooke said: ‘While we are disappointed with the national planning inspector’s decision, we are pleased the inspector recognised that the current operations of the business were beyond a reasonable level.
‘We accept the decision and will be writing to the business owner with advice on how best to operate within the imposed planning conditions.’