Alun Lewis changed original plans for his extension at his farm after his mother suffered a stroke and later was diagnosed with dementia. But officials said he did not stick to original plans
A farmer who built an extension to his house after his mum became ill during lockdown has been ordered to take it down.
Alun Lewis originally had plans to build on his farmhouse approved in 2019, before his mother, 79, suffered a stroke and was then diagnosed with dementia.
Mr Lewis, from Nasareth near Caernarfon then changed the plans as a result to accommodate her, North Wales Live reports.
However, the Snowdonia National Park Authority said that while they have given full consideration to Mr Lewis’s situation, the extension doesn’t keep with the original plans so he must remove it.
While he admits he has been “reckless” in changing the extension, Mr Lewis feels the authority have not taken his mother’s health into account.
“My mum was in a vulnerable and fragile state, and with the Covid situation, it became apparent that not only would she need 24 hour care but that she would need to live with us sooner rather than later for her own safety.
“I’ll admit that I had been reckless in this situation by making a bigger extension. By the time they complained about the site, we had completed the extension and we were ready to move in my mum.
“I feel that they have no sympathy towards my situation. It’s a sensitive matter and I feel that they haven’t taken this into account.”
Mr Lewis, who said the farm has been in his family for three generations, added: “On top of all of this, there has been no communication – at first they were unhappy with the altered measurements and now they are unhappy with the design of the new extension.
“I just don’t know what to do or think. I’m in a difficult situation – my wife is an NHS nurse, my mum is sick and I have five children living here. All I want to do is protect my family during these challenging times.”
In response, the farmer revealed that the neighbouring community has been rallying behind him by signing petitions and sending letters to the national park authority urging them to change their minds.
He said: “I’m not happy with this situation. I fully understand the complexity behind the planning and so does Alun.
“He has even admitted where he has gone wrong here, but yet, can we blame a man for wanting to look after his family in the current situation that we live in?
“Alun was pushed to a corner and had to prioritise his mum’s situation first and foremost. He needed to provide a safe and practical place for her. Of course, he should have gone through those planning permission applications once again, but they take time, and Alun didn’t have the time.
“Everyone is doing their bit to protect the people they love and Alun is no different. The park should take his side on this, not cause further grief.
“If things get worse, we could lose a Welsh family from a Welsh community, and we all know where that could lead to – another house used as a second home. This is how it all starts. No slogan or protest can help the situation, we need to take appropriate actions to protect this family.
“I have declared my support to Alun by writing a letter to the national park authority. We fully understand that it is a complex issue but they must reconsider their response.”
However, Snowdonia National Park has insisted that the unauthorised extension to the property is significantly larger, does not comply with the policies of the development plan and must be addressed efficiently.
A spokesperson for the Snowdonia National Park said: “At a meeting of the SNPA’s Planning and Access Committee on Wednesday the 2nd of September 2020, members determined to refuse a retrospective planning application on an extension to a residential dwelling on the outskirts of the village of Nasareth.
“Planning officers visited the site in February 2019 as building work was underway on an unauthorised extension to the property, which has now been completed. Planning permission was granted in 2012 for a two-storey extension, however the extension that was constructed is significantly larger in scale, of a different design and is almost one and a half times more than the original dwelling.
“Officers have communicated clearly and regularly with the applicant and the agent throughout. Advice has been clear from the outset that the size and design of the extension did not comply with the policies of the development plan. Mr Lewis was also informed whilst the site was under construction that the works were unauthorised. This advice was ignored.
“Planning policies state that extensions must not have a footprint area greater than the original dwelling and for this reason, as well as the conclusion that the design of the extension is detrimental to the character of the original dwelling, Planning Officers were minded to refuse permission.
“The authority gave full consideration to the personal circumstances of Mr Lewis’ family, and has no objection to the principle of providing an extension to achieve family and wider care needs, and are confident a suitably designed extension would be granted planning permission. However, the circumstances were not considered to justify an extension at the size and of the design of the one that has been built.
“Mr Lewis now has the right to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate on the refusal of the planning application.
“On the Authority’s part, the principle of granting planning permission for an extension is not disputed; the Authority would be able to approve an extension that meets the needs of the family, provided it also meets the requirements of planning policies.”
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