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Can I build a porch on the front of my house? Yes... but you will then have to take it down! Man gets planning go-ahead for extension ... then council officers tell him to rip it down.

Byline: Katie Norman

A home owner has been told to tear down his front porch, even though he claims council officers initially told him it would not require planning permission.

Gareth Griffiths, 38, of Heol Dyhewydd, Llantwit Fardre, Pontypridd, said he was assured the pounds 4,500 extension would not require a planning application when he asked Rhondda Cynon Taf Council's developmental control department for advice.

The council has admitted it is entirely possible Mr Griffiths was given such advice - even though it has now ordered the porch's destruction by July 28.

Mr Griffiths, who runs GG Carriages minibus hire, got a letter from the council saying the porch would require planning permission after its completion last year, but his application to retain the structure failed, as did his two appeals to the Welsh Assembly Government.

In spite of the council's order for its removal, Mr Griffiths told the Echo he did not intend to remove it.

He said: "I'm not a rich man. I can't afford to throw away money like it's water.

"I asked to see if I needed planning permission and I was told I didn't. Now, to be told I've spent money and built it only to have to knock it down, is just unbelievable. I wouldn't have built it if they said it wasn't allowed - that's why I asked beforehand."

Mr Griffiths' brother Howard, who lives in Cardiff, has been overseeing the appeal process because of the stress Gareth is under.

Howard, 40, said: "Gareth told me that the main reason for the council's concern is an objection from a neighbour but I've spoken to his neighbours and they say they don't have a problem with it. They also say it's out of keeping with the area but every porch in that street is different."

A spokeswoman for RCT council said it was possible that one of its officers had told Gareth his development would not need planning permission - but she said such advice would have been given as an initial opinion and was not binding.

She added: "The inspector appointed by WAG to consider the case supported the council and dismissed both appeals, giving three months to remove the unauthorised structure. That decision cannot be reversed."


The porch at the house in Heol Dyhewydd, Llantwit Fardre and, above, Mr Griffiths in front of his home PICTURES: Peter Bolter [umlaut]
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 11, 2009
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