The house in West Compton, Somerset, is the subject of a planning dispute. (Solent) (Graham Hunt/BNPS)

A businessman faces having to demolish the £500,000 house he built on his property during lockdown without planning permission.

Tony Harvey built the house on land behind a hedge above the rural hamlet of West Compton, near Glastonbury, Somerset.

He believes the one-story barn-style house fits in with the rural location, but some villagers have complained that it is “lit up like a Christmas tree” at night because of the large windows.

It was also alleged that the new house diverted water runoff from the field onto the road, and in cold weather this water freezes, creating dangerous driving conditions.

Mr Harvey, a mechanic who runs a garage, was visited 12 months ago by Somerset Council officers, who later served him with an enforcement notice ordering him to demolish the property within six months.

Somerset Council has issued an enforcement notice to demolish a property in West Compton. (Solent) (Graham Hunt/BNPS)

An aerial view of a house in West Compton, Somerset, which was built without planning permission. (Solent) (Graham Hunt/BNPS)

He applied for retrospective planning permission to keep the two-bedroom house as either a residential or farm workers’ apartment, but both applications were rejected.

Mr Harvey has since appealed against the enforcement notice and the outcome will be decided by the Planning Inspectorate.

Mr Harvey declined to comment.

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Its planning agent James Whilding, managing director of Acorus Rural Property Services Limited, said in a planning report: “The scheme aims to create housing of exceptional quality with a high quality of design, construction and materials.”

He said the property was “required for the applicant and partner with a strong local connection to the rural settlement”.

However, a spokesman for Somerset Council said: “The local planning authority has carefully considered the reasons for the refusal and deemed it appropriate and an enforcement notice has been issued requiring the property to be demolished and the property restored to an agricultural field.”

“The enforcement notice was served on October 12 and the owner has until November 27 to appeal the notice to the Planning Inspectorate or demolish the property within six months.”

The story goes on

Locals disagree about the planning dispute.

West Compton villagers, left to right: Stuart Vaughan, Liz Mayhew and her husband Mike, oppose the construction. (Solent) (BNPS)

Harriet Ray, who lives in West Compton, said: “The building is in a prominent position at the top of the hill and overlooks the homes and gardens of West Compton residents, resulting in a lack of privacy in both summer and winter .”

“At night, the property is lit up like a Christmas tree, so the skyline is dominated by the building’s lights.

“In my opinion it is wrong to build something without planning permission. We all need to get planning permission. If I wanted to build stables for my horses, I would have to do that. Why should he get away with it?”

Stuart Vaughan, 77, said: “He has built quite a fancy building which has fantastic views. But it’s very visible to all of West Compton because it’s on the ridge.”

The village of West Compton, Somerset, is divided over the planning dispute. (Solent) (BNPS)

“It has glass from which you can enjoy these fantastic views. West Compton has no street lights and no light pollution. So when he turns on the lights, it glows and it looks like an alien invasion from Mars.”

But Rob Smith, a customer at Mr Harvey’s garage, supported the planning and believes there is a “clear stench of Nimbyism” from objectors.

He said: “I feel there is a strong need to retain talented, hard-working craftsmen like Tony in our community.”

“With local property prices unaffordable for working class people, it is only fair and right to allow people with the skills and motivation to build their own homes.”

Stephanie Christensen said: “I strongly believe that this application should be supported by the local council as every effort has been made to deliver a thoughtful design that reflects local circumstances.”

When do you need a building permit?

According to the government, you will most likely need planning permission if you want to build something new, make a major change to your building such as an extension, or change the use of the building.

Homeowners should contact their local planning authority (LPA) through their council to find out if they need planning permission.

To apply for planning permission they must do so through the LPA.

If a construction project requires planning permission and you carry out the work without obtaining it, you may be served with an enforcement notice ordering you to reverse any changes you have made.

It is illegal to ignore an enforcement order, but you can appeal it.

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