Council calls for porch demolition

ORDER: Frank Davies and his son William with the porch that he has been told to take down by Burnley Borough Council.
ORDER: Frank Davies and his son William with the porch that he has been told to take down by Burnley Borough Council.
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A DAD is being forced to pull down a porch he built to protect his severely disabled son’s wheelchairs.

Mr Frank Davies erected the porch on the outside of his home in Pembroke Street, Burnley, in 2009 to shelter his son William’s wheelchairs and other disability equipment.

But Mr Davies did not have permission for the porch and when he sought retrospective permission, the application was rejected by Burnley Borough Council’s Development Control Committee.

A further appeal was also rejected culminating in the council’s decision to now remove the porch.

But Mr Davies is continuing to plead his case and said: “My son is severely disabled. He was struck down with TB meningitis before his second birthday and also suffered a stroke. He lived although it left him paralysed on the left side and he has not walked or talked since. He had respite care when he was younger until I was told the centre could not take him anymore because it did not have the equipment to lift him. I now have a carer to help him at home but if the porch is taken down health and safety laws say there is not enough space in the house for the carer to take him from a bath and wheel him through to his room.

“I live with my wife Maureen, William and our daughter Helen in a very small house. There is no space in our back yard to store the two wheelchairs and hoist either. As far as the council goes my son does not matter.”

But Sue Graham, the council’s head of planning and environment, said the council had done everything it could to try and find a compromise.

Ward councillor Darren Reynolds, who has previously defended the family against the proposed action, said there was now nothing that could be done.

He said: “You have to feel for the young man who is unable to speak for himself and whose carers have difficulty looking after him. He is the real loser here.

“Unfortunately those closest to him, for whatever reason, have decided not to accept the advice offered. I do believe a solution could have been reached.

“But the result is that the appeals process has been exhausted. Any failure to act now by the council could lead to a court challenge and legal action against employees of the council for failing in their duties.”

Mrs Graham added: “It’s regrettable that we’ve arrived at a point where we have to remove this unauthorised extension. We’re extremely aware of the sensitivity of this case and the needs of the family.

“In April 2009, residents complained about the large porch at the front of Mr Davies’ house which he had built without planning permission.

“Council officers have offered Mr Davies advice throughout this process and have tried to persuade him that a suitable alternative would be to cover over his back yard and use that space for storage. Unfortunately Mr Davies would not consider this compromise.

“Officers also consulted with social services and our housing needs team to see if any further help could be provided and are still working with the family to find a solution. The housing needs team assessed Mr Davies’ house (minus the porch) as adequate for the needs of the family and their disabled son and no further assistance could be offered.

“The council has a duty to uphold the decision of elected councillors and to consider the impact this unauthorised extension has had on the wider community which has been very patient in waiting for this issue to be resolved.”