Shed-gate 'turmoil' as dozens of Northumberland households told to apply for planning permission at £200 per application for sheds and summerhouses, despite them being up for years

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A Northumberland village is ‘in turmoil’ after dozens of homes received letters from the council saying they need planning permission for their sheds.

Angry residents targeted by the mass mail-out in Lynemouth say that some of the structures have been up for many years and that there seems to be no precedent for needing planning permission – a process which will cost householders £206 each.

However, the local authority says the investigation is in the ‘early stages’ and that any structures that have been in place for at least four years will not need permission – if there is proof.

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Planning enforcement letters were recently delivered to around 60 or 70 residents in Park Road, Dalton Avenue, Fenham Road and Boland Road.

Households face bills of more than £200 for planning permission applications over sheds which they have had for yearsHouseholds face bills of more than £200 for planning permission applications over sheds which they have had for years
Households face bills of more than £200 for planning permission applications over sheds which they have had for years

One resident, Susan Nicholson, said: “I was born in this village and lived here all my life and have never known anyone need permission for a shed. We are not happy at all and want to fight this decision.”

Another, Pauline Elliott, added: “My summerhouse has been up for three years, but I know a lot have been up a lot longer, some 20-odd years.

“The council now wants £206 off each property for planning permission otherwise they could enforce us to take it down. We are all angry.”

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All outbuildings are generally covered by permitted development rights, but not if they are ‘on land forward of a wall forming the principal elevation’, and the properties in question have their main gardens to the front.

Cllr Liz Dunn, the area’s ward member, said that while she accepts planning rules must be followed, she has every sympathy for the residents affected by this as well as questioning the way it has been handled.

“While I recognise that the planning officers must follow nationally set regulations and legislation, I empathise with the 60 or so residents who have received these letters,” she said.

“Some of these front-garden structures have been in situ for many years – it’s the nature of this type of pit village where houses typically have large front gardens and very small spaces at the back.

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“Naturally residents who take pride in their property and have invested in it are incensed at this sudden mass communication which landed through their doors and literally put the village in turmoil.

“At this moment in time when people are in lockdown or even shielding, this has certainly raised stress levels and had a negative effect on people’s wellbeing.”

Cllr Dunn also suggested that there were other issues which should be the target of action, adding: “As the county councillor for Lynemouth , I’m acutely aware that we have more than our fair share of unkempt or empty properties in the village which we really need to focus on.

“One property has been empty for years and has been the site of fly-tipping and antisocial behaviour, leading to many complaints from the community.

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“But sadly it’s proving much harder to bring absentee landlords into line, regardless of the number of complaints raised and the amount of distress these properties cause for the local community.”

A Northumberland County Council spokeswoman said: “We received a report that several properties in Lynemouth have erected structures in their front gardens without planning permission.

“We are at the early stages of investigating this and have written to the residents of the properties concerned this week to ask them to contact the team to discuss this.

“If structures have been in place for four years or more and evidence can be provided, they will not need to seek planning permission.”

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