VOTE: Father fights on to save treehouse for his sons

A father-of-two from Donnington is fighting to save the treehouse he built for his two sons after the district council told him to tear it down.

Darren Hurford built the wooden treehouse back in 2008 for his sons Tom and Joe at Deer Close, but was told it needed to be ripped down because it breached planning regulations.

The council said the treehouse was outside the ‘curtilage’ (boundaries) of his home.

Mr Hurford appealed against the council’s decision and a hearing was held last Thursday to discuss the matter.

“I just think kids should be allowed to have fun,” Mr Hurford said at the hearing.

“It’s not like they are going to be in it when they are 25 – well I hope not anyway,”

The hearing was conducted by Richard Perrins from the planning inspectorate and was held at the council’s East Pallant House office. Planning officer Wade Sowman was there to represent the council.

Mr Perrins said: “In simple terms the matter I need to look at is whether the treehouse had been built within the curtilage of the dwelling.”

When asked what curtilage meant, he said: “There’s no established legal definition, it is a matter of fact and degree in each case. The courts have found some aspects that need to be looked at.”

Mr Hurford told the hearing he decided to build a treehouse in the summer of 2007 after a conservatory was built at the back of his house.

He added: “When I considered building a treehouse I went to the neighbours and asked their views on it. There were no objections at all.”

Mr Hurford’s father, Neill Mills, was also at the hearing.

He said two previous planning applications had been submitted to the council, and the council accepted this as the site.

However Mr Sowman said just because a plot of land had been identified by the applicant it did not mean that was the curtilage.

When Mr Hurford challenged Mr Sowman by highlighting there were several other treehouses in the area, Mr Sowman added: “Without the planning department knowing the ins and outs of every dwelling, we wouldn’t be able to make a reasonable argument in every case.”