‘I am banging my head against the wall’: Builder threatened with court action over disputed property

A builder who has been at loggerheads with his local council over a house that originally went up without planning permission has been threatened with court action.

Malcolm Hughlock has been slapped with a breach of condition notice by Redcar and Cleveland Council and warned he could be prosecuted, but said he hoped to find a resolution to the wrangle.

The 69-year-old was given three months last year to comply with various planning conditions after retrospective permission for the two storey modular built home in Boosbeck, east Cleveland – which uses rubber tires filled with concrete in its foundations – was granted by councillors in a bid to secure required amendments.

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The council previously said he had shown a “wilful disregard” for planning regulations with his actions using up valuable staff resources, prolonging planning process and causing distress to the adjacent occupiers.

It has demanded the removal of a balcony which overlooks a bungalow next door and said none of the works it had required have been done.

Mr Hughlock said he had been in touch with the council to suggest a modification to the balcony, which he did not want to take down.

The property in question, number 4 Serenity Hollows, is being rented by his best friend Stewart Wilcoxan.

He said: “They are basically wanting to have the balcony taken down.

“Their reasoning is if you sit out you are overlooking next door’s garden, but it isn’t for that, it is for flowers, there are big plants up there, etc, all over.

“Hey [Mr Wilcoxan] has dogs and if he puts posh plants down in the garden they would just be trampled over.

“He has no interest in using the balcony.

“The original design was award winning and if you take the balcony down it loses something big – it is just for looks, not to use.

“Take the balcony off and it becomes a square box.”

Mr Hughlock said he had proposed incorporating two raised and two bottom platforms into the balcony so it could still house plant pots, just not be walked on, with another option creating a so-called juliet balcony.

Both options, he said, would be more expensive than simply knocking the balcony down.



The house – number 4 Serenity Hollow – which Redcar and Cleveland Council is unhappy with

The pensioner said the council was being “very unfair” and claimed a precedent had been set with two other neighboring properties he previously built in the cul-de-sac in Boosbeck, one of which had a balcony at the back and the other windows that looked into the garden of the bungalow.

He said: “They have allowed it there and yet at the other side of the bungalow they are saying no.”

Mr Hughlock said Government guidelines stated that local planning authorities should only use enforcement powers in respect of an unauthorized development when it was causing harm.

“I can’t see how there is any harm involved,” he said.

“Generally I am banging my head against the wall.

“Everyone in the whole road that is directly concerned with this house wants the balcony to stay because they think it looks really nice and they love how it looks, but the council is not interested – just wow.”

He said despite having another plot of land in the vicinity he could make money from, he was not building any more.

‘Not interested in money’

Mr Hughlock added: “I am not interested in money, I have just got an old van and have rented these houses out on low rent for the rest of [the tenants] lives if they wish.

“Not one person has moved out of the street since I have built them.

“The rest of the land we are going to landscape it and have a big orchard and a dog park.

“We have just gone halves on a hot tub that we are doing in an area downstairs at number 4 – the people from the street, a little community, will be going in there on a Saturday afternoon.”

A spokeswoman for the council said: “The house was granted [retrospective] permission last year subject to a number of conditions which the developer needed to comply with.

“These conditions set out a timeframe for when various works had to be completed.

“We did a site visit last week and none of the works that were required to have been completed have been done.

“We have therefore served a breach of condition notice.

“The notice gives the developer a further set period of time to comply with the conditions and if they don’t we can then prosecute for non-compliance in the magistrates court.”

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