Devastated couple plan to leave their Pendle home of 50 years after campaign to save porch fails

A couple have lost their battle to keep a porch they built on their home to make it feel safer after they were burgled.

Wednesday, 20th June 2018, 2:46 pm
Updated Tuesday, 26th June 2018, 12:12 pm
George and Patricia Owen plan to move from their home of five decades after their campaign to save a porch they built failed

And George and Patricia Owen have been left so upset by the battle against Pendle Council they are considering moving out of the Barnoldswick house that has been their home for 50 years.

Their son, Gareth said: "This has left my parents feeling upset and victimised when all they wanted to do was make their home feel safer after they were burgled while they slept in their bed.

"But now they just want to leave what has been their home for the past 50 years."

The battle to save the porch ended when government planning inspector Katie McDonald, who was appointed by the Secretary of State, refused the Owen's appeal and upheld Pendle Council's decision to refuse planning permission.

Bu the couple insist that when they visited Pendle Council's planning office to seek advice about building the porch they were told planning permission was not needed.

They also said that when a representative from the local authority visited their property in Taylor Street they were told that the porch, which was built by then, was acceptable as it was less than two metres from the road.

But a spokesman for Pendle Council said this week there was no record of the couple's visit to the offices or any conversations that took place.

At the time, Pendle Council’s Planning Manager Neil Watson had explained that the council had received a complaint about unlawful building work going on at the cottage in Taylor Street.

He said:“We investigated and asked the owners to submit a retrospective planning application.

“Their house is in a Conservation Area which means that any new building work has to be in keeping with the area."

The couple were devastated when Pendle Council informed them that as the porch was not in keeping with the area and not built in the exact same stone as the rest of the house it would have to be demolished.

They offered to take it down and re-build it in the exact stone stated by the council but after that was refused by the local authority stating that the porch was an “eyesore” which was blocking views in a conservation area and was unsuitable for he age and style of the property, George and Patricia launched a “Save Our Porch” petition.

This received great support from the community where they are popular and well known.

The decision on the future of the porch was then referred to the planning inspectorate.

Upholding Pendle Council's decision to refuse planning permission Miss McDonald explained that the house was one in a historic row of workers’ terraced cottages linked to the old Corn Mill and Valley Gardens and is part of a Conversation Area.

She said: “The cottages make a positive contribution to the Conservation Area with their simple flat and plain frontage, typical of their time and historic reference.

“The porch is unsympathetically prominent and does not reflect the history and development of the place and I find that the proposal is harmful to the character of the Conservation Area. “

The Owens argued that one other property in their street had built an extension and another a garage.

But in response to this the Planning Inspector found that one was much more proportionate to the size of the house and garage was not in the Conservation Area.

In a prepared statement the Owen said: "Firstly, we were told by the planning department at Nelson that no plans were needed.

" We went through the proposed materials, size of the porch and back yard, and our address was taken.

" To then allow us to build this porch and then send someone a week later when the porch is built to pull it down is surely not best practice?. "At no stage until we lost the final appeal has the head of planning tried to contact us and come to see us to speak face to face to help find a solution.

"Even now he still refuses to see us until the porch is taken down, and due to the fact we were told we didn't need plans, he should come and apologise to us and help find a solution. "Secondly, we submitted plans to rebuild the porch in natural stone and make it clone of the house, which would have greatly enhanced the street and conservation area.

"This too was rejected and we were told no matter what changes we did, it would not get approved, which we cannot believe is councils policy. the system has failed us."

A Pendle Council spokesman said: “We are conscious of the impact that planning decisions have on people’s lives, but it’s vital that people get planning permission before going ahead with work.

“When people go ahead without planning permission they run the risk that any building work they have done will have to be removed."