Five £1million luxury mansions face destruction after they were built ‘too big’


Five luxury £1million mansions near Bolton could be reduced to rubble because they are too big.

One of the owners of the six-bedroom homes, who is fighting to save his property, claims he has suffered from severe stress and anxiety due to his ordeal, an inquiry heard.

Elan Raja has been embroiled in a feud with Bolton Council over the last five years after he was told his dream home would have to be torn down.

A planning inquiry heard on Monday how Sparkle Developments were given planning permission to build five luxury homes in Grundy Fold Farm in August 2014.

The stone-built exclusive homes were built on a stunning plot in the West Pennine moors near Bolton, Lancashire, but the inquiry heard they are larger than allowed.

Plot one on the site had a 31 percent bigger footprint than allowed, plot two was 19 percent bigger, plot three 32 percent bigger and plot four 33 percent bigger.

Finishing works were put on hold after a complaint was filed in October 2016, and Bolton Council found the houses were not being built in accordance with the planning permission.

The local authority first issued an enforcement notice to flatten the entire development in 2018 following an impasse with the developers, Sparkle Developments.

The appeal claims the enforcement notice issued by the council to demolish the homes was excessive and too harsh to remedy any breach in planning regulations.

Mr Raja said he paid £1,057,000 for the plot in 2016 and claims he has now spent more than £215,000 on the rental of an alternative property and other costs.

He said he has suffered from severe stress and anxiety coping with the immense demands of the matter and had suffered cardiac problems as a result of the ‘nightmare’.

He told the inquiry he had launched litigation against the developer but ‘they had disappeared’ and refused to take responsibility for ‘what they have done’.

Mr Raja said: “It has had life changing consequences for me.

“I feel trapped in a vicious circle with deepening financial pressures and effects on my family.

“Every day feels like I’m waking up to a nightmare. The best way to describe it is a pressure cooker.

“I can understand if one house was wrong but not the whole development.

“We’ve had endless meetings with the council to try and sort out the situation.

“We have tried to work out a reasonable solution. We thought by working with the planning officers we had some chance.

“It’s taken four years but despite doing whatever it takes we’re still faced with uncertain challenges.”

Mr Raja claimed he was told planning permission was in place when he bought the mansion in 2016.

But he has claimed the developers have not contributed any costs or advice as of February 2020 despite the mess they find themselves in.

He said: “I was informed when I bought the house in 2016 that planning permission was in place.

“I was content to leave matters to the developers and architects.

“I assumed the development was being carried out according to consent.”

In March 2017, a retrospective planning application was submitted to retain the homes as they were built, but this was refused by the planning committee in June.

Four months later, another application was submitted to retain the five dwellings.

Following discussions between Sparkle Developments and the council’s planning department, the developer was told the application could only be recommended for approval if it involved selective demolition and re-siting of some of the houses.

This compromise was rejected by the developer, who decided to press on with the planning application instead.

This second application to retain the five dwellings was refused by the planning committee in May 2018.

Then, in the summer of the same year, the council served the developer with an enforcement notice which required the developer to demolish all homes within six months.

Legal representative for the householders, Killian Garvey told the inquiry the appellants’ lives had been upended for the last four years.

But Ian Ponter, representing the council, told the inquiry the development was ‘harmful to the landscape’.

Mr Ponter said: “The scheme was a hamlet around a courtyard.

“That design was important given the site’s location in the greenbelt and the rural nature.

“That was bought by Sparkle Developments who then sold the plots individually.

“Development got underway in 2016 and was a significant departure from the consent given in 2014.

“The farmhouse was demolished and five homes were built over a wider area.

“We say that is harmful to the landscape.”

Local councillor Bob Allen, who has been on the planning committee for 10 years, said he supported the refusal of the proposed development.

He said: “The area is characterised by open fields, moorlands, isolated cottages, farms and golf courses.

“The local authority has acted entirely within its powers to call a halt to a development out of line with the plans.

“The authority has been tolerant in extending the deadline for enforcement.

“To retain what is built has been refused given the magnitude of difference in size and locations.

“Every new application for houses since 2014 has been refused.

“The latest application does not get close to the courtyard type development originally approved.”

The four-day inquiry continues.