Householders ‘duped’ by builders

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NEWTOWNABBEY residents are being “duped” into building loft conversions without planning permission by unscrupulous builders, according to local councillors.

At last week’s council Planning Committee meeting (March 7) members raised concerns following the decision to refuse retrospective planning permission for a house at Burnthill Gardens.

The homeowner had built a large dormer across the full length of his house without first getting planning approval.

Planning Service refused to grant the retrospective permission as the development caused “demonstrable harm to the character and setting of the existing dwelling and surrounding residential area”.

Senior Planning Officer John Davison said: “We spent considerable time and effort giving advice which was subsequently ignored. They never came back to us and in the end we have had no choice but to make this decision and refuse.”

Mr Davison continued: “This is a major widespread problem and in most cases our enforcement notices are successful.

“In most instances people are advised by the builder that they don’t need planning permission, when, certainly in this case, that was not correct.

“The best advice is to go to a professional architect who will know what can and can’t be done. The builder will always build.”

Read the full story, plus Deane’s (pictured) experience with the Planning Service in this week’s Times...