A retired couple from Dallowgill near Ripon have been left with a £700 solicitor’s bill after successfully fighting a planning enforcement notice from Harrogate Borough Council.
Geoff, 68, and Reta McKinley, 72, had a conservatory built in 2012 after a member of the council’s planning department confirmed over the telephone planning permission was not needed.
But they were later told in November 2013 by the same department that an enforcement notice had been put in place and the building had to be pulled down.
After employing a solicitor and eight months of legal battles, the enforcement notice has been quashed after a planning inspector confirmed it had been built upon the same site as an original building.
Despite placing the notice after incorrectly concluding the conservatory was a property extension, the borough council has refused to pay the couple’s legal bill or offer any compensation.
A spokesman for Harrogate Borough Council said that Mr and Mrs McKinley’s son, Conan, who appealed the notice, did not make a claim for costs at the appropriate time.
“The appeal against the enforcement notice was instigated by Mr and Mrs McKinley’s son and at that time he received correspondence from the Planning Inspectorate directing him to the advice pamphlet Costs awards in planning appeals,” the spokesman said.
“It sets out in what circumstances costs can be awarded together with how and when this must be made.
“The council has thoroughly investigated Mr McKinley’s complaint and believes it acted in an appropriate manner.”
But in response Conan McKinley has said the process was complex and at no point did the form make clear where to claim costs. He said: “Harrogate Borough Council is clearly unwilling to accept responsibility for incorrectly placing an enforcement notice on my parents’ conservatory.
“Had the council not placed the enforcement notice on the conservatory in the first instance there would have been no need for an appeal and no costs would have been incurred.
“The council is simply turning its back on the issue, it has created this scenario – not the McKinleys.”
His father, Geoff, said the legal battles had put him and his wife “through hell” and the council had still not apologised.
He said: “We were so worried we would have to pull the conservatory down as we had paid for it using our savings. If the council had offered an apology we might not have taken it any further.”