Express & Star

Three-year row continues after owner admits demolishing most of home without permission

A three-year row over an unauthorised extension to a family home rumbles on after the owner admitted he had already demolished most of the house without permission.

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Barnfordhill Close, Oldbury, in 2022 with some of the extension work carried out. Photo: Google

Harminder Singh Reehal first received the green light from Sandwell Council’s planners in 2021 to add a handful of extensions to a home in Barnfordhill Close, Oldbury, but after several failed attempts to get permission for a two-storey extension – built it anyway.

Sandwell Council’s planning committee was due to decide on the latest proposals for the family home, which included a first-floor side extension, single-storey side extension and single and two-storey rear extensions, but quickly abandoned the debate after Mr Reehal threw a spanner in the works and revealed only one of the home’s original walls was still in place.

Under the latest application by Mr Reehal, the side extension, which had originally intended to be two storeys but was criticised by the council’s planners and rejected, would have stayed in place. A separate extension, that was also built without permission, would have been demolished.

A roadside grass verge would be reinstated and a new perimeter fence would also have been built.

Mr Reehal apologised to his neighbours at the planning meeting on March 27 saying the work was taking longer than he had expected.

“We just want to improve the area and get on,” he said. “It’s a family house, my mom and dad are supposed to come in and that’s why we want to extend the house… I just want to look after my mom and dad.”

But then Mr Reehal told the committee he had demolished all but one of the walls on the old building which led to the council’s solicitor recommending an immediate deferral.

“From what the applicant has just said, he has pretty much demolished his original building in which case it puts into doubt the 2021 permission and also puts into doubt everything you are reading tonight,” he said.

Councillor Ellen Fenton said she was “very uncomfortable” deciding on an extension when it appeared to be a “complete new build with one external wall from an old building.”

The council said the removal of the grass verge and “substantial” groundwork on the unauthorised extension was carried out in early 2023 and an enforcement case was opened by the council in March. Ahead of the meeting, Sandwell Council’s planning officers had recommended the application should be approved.

A report by the council’s planning officers said: “The development would have no significant impact on the amenity of surrounding residents and the design and scale would assimilate into the surrounding area; being compliant with development plan policy. Whilst the unauthorised extensions and removal of the former verge is regrettable, the proposal builds on the principles set in the previous approval and seeks to rectify wrongs with a reasonable scheme to address the visual amenity issues.”

Sandwell Council’s planners approved the first attempt by Harminder Singh Reehal to build a number of extensions in 2021.

Another application followed with different extensions but that was rejected by the council and an appeal to reverse the decision was also thrown out by the government’s planning inspectors. The government’s inspectors agreed with the council that a two-storey side extension to the home on a “prominent” location was unacceptable.

Another attempt to build the extensions was then rejected again by Sandwell Council later that year. Another two applications were put forward last year asking to amend the original application approved in 2021 but both were later withdrawn.