Councillors hold back from ordering demolition of £800,000 family house in Milton Keynes

Under pressure councillors have decided not to order the demolition of a controversial family home that has been built bigger than Milton Keynes Council had permitted.

Monday, 9th December 2019, 11:08 am
Updated Monday, 9th December 2019, 11:09 am

The development control committee had been urged by a parish council and neighbours of the Portland Drive property – valued in excess of £800,000 – to enforce planning rules and get it torn down.

Residents Alison Stainsby, Barry Hinsley and Andrew Herman called on Thurday’s meeting to order the demolition of Dr Manoj Srivastava’s home.

Mr Herman said: “It is a horrendously bulky dwelling which dominates the street scene. There is a warning of costs against the council, but there is always a risk of costs.”

Councillors voting on the plan at Thursday's meeting

Alison Stainsby said: “The council needs to send a strong message that breaches won’t be tolerated. Demolition is the only way forward in this case,” she said to applause.

Committee chairman Cllr John Bint (Cons, Broughton) proposed the toughest sanction.

He said it was not about punishing the applicant but of rectifying “planning harm” and the only way to rectify all the breaches of planning control was to demolish.

Council officers said the council had received top level legal advice cautioning against demolition.

The council had given permission for a “big house” to replace a bungalow. This could mean it could be judged to be imposing too harsh a penalty in relation to what had happened.

Other members of the committee were worried about losing the case. This they said would not only mean losing taxpayers’ money in court costs but also losing the case, allowing the house to stay as it is now.

The owner, Dr Srivastava, is already fighting against one enforcement notice, with a planning hearing scheduled for next March.

After rejecting the chairman’s move to order demolition, the committee discussed taking more enforcement action against 17 alleged breaches of planning.

Cllr Ric Brackenbury (Lib Dem, Campbell Park and Old Woughton) said: “It would be very easy to play to the crowd.

“If we lose, we lose the lot, which would be the worst possible outcome.”

And Cllr Paul Williams (Central MK) said: “It is not helpful to residents to suggest doing something we can’t defend at appeal.”

Councillors then went through a list of 12 alleged breaches and decided which issues should be enforced in a second enforcement notice.

These issues include windows should be shut, an extension that should be reduced in size, and a hedgerow replaced.

Councillors voted by nine votes to one to issue a second enforcement notice.

Dr Srivastava’s name was on Thursday’s agenda as a speaker but he was not present.