'If only I had a bulldozer, I'd go and knock it down myself'

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ALL Pat Faulkner wants for Christmas is a wrecking ball.

Her neighbours have built the side wall of their large extension within inches of her small one - with planning permission.

Pat, who lives in Neatham and will be 85 on Christmas Day, says she now has to have her lights on during the day because the extension blocks out the sun.

She said: "I think East Hampshire District Council (EHDC) know they have made a mistake but they haven’t got the will or the guts to do anything about it.

"I never received any plans or a notification letter, and I don’t think anyone from the council made a site visit because the application went in during lockdown."

Her friend Gaye Wenham, who lives in Holybourne, added: "I’ve tried everything to sort things out for her. She’s so angry and fed up and it’s really affecting her health."

Alton Town Council did not object to the plan for a single-storey rear extension at Neatham Manor Farm Cottages in Lower Neatham Mill Lane, which was submitted in October 2020 - but it is only a consultee on planning matters.

EHDC, which made the decision to grant permission, said: "Planning laws allow single-storey rear extensions up to six metres in depth without the need of planning permission. As a result we are not in a position to refuse this development on those grounds.

"The impact on the neighbour was fully assessed in the officer report, together with all other material considerations."

In 2000, East Hampshire approved a conservatory on the site with an area of 25.8sq metres, compared to the 50.4sq metres of the replacement extension.

The conservatory’s depth nearest Mrs Faulkner’s extension was 3.2 metres, compared to six metres across the full width for the new extension.

The old conservatory had a sloping glass roof while the new extension has a flat roof. The changes in dimensions and design have left two side windows in Mrs Faulkner’s extension useless and prevented direct sunlight entering the room for a significant part of the day.

Many years ago Mrs Faulkner, who has lived at Neatham Manor Farm Cottages since 1989, put up a 1.5-metre high wall next to where the new extension is being built after dogs in the neighbouring properties kept jumping over an old picket fence.

This wall, and Mrs Faulkner’s modest extension, are both dwarfed by the breeze block monolith right next to them.

An officer’s report says its scale and proximity are considered acceptable because it is "partially screened" by Mrs Faulkner’s extension and wall.

The report also stated the new extension would cause "little harm" to the scale and character of the applicants’ property, and it would be "sufficiently distanced, orientated and designed so as not to have an unacceptable effect on the amenities of the neighbouring properties, in particular to their outlook, privacy or available light".

Policy CP29 of East Hampshire’s Joint Core Strategy and policy DE2 of the Alton Neighbourhood Plan require new developments to be "sympathetic to their setting in terms of scale, height and massing, and their relationship to adjoining buildings", while policy CP27 of the strategy seeks to prevent "excessive overshadowing".

While East Hampshire considered the flat roof to be "poor design", it felt the scale and bulk of the development were "in keeping with the existing property and surrounding buildings" and that "on balance" the extension was acceptable.

Gaye took a different view. She said: "If I had a bulldozer, I’d go and knock it down myself."

The neighbours have acted entirely within the law - their extension has all the necessary official permission.

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