A homeowner who built a timber clad lean-to extension to his terraced Georgian house in a Tain conservation area had committed "sacrilege" according to a councillor on a planning committee this week.
Rob Parkes, who lives with his wife at Esther Place, also fitted white UPVC windows to the historic mid-terrace dwelling, contrary to planning rules for architecturally sensitive areas.
Highland Council’s north planning committee heard on Tuesday that Mr Parkes was "caught in the act" in July carrying out the work without planning permission or having sought advice from the planners.
The work was all but completed but this week Mr Parkes had his application for retrospective planning permission refused after a 7-6 vote. He will now have to negotiate with planning officials to come up with a compromises solution that will satisfy everyone, including neighbour Ross Robertson who complained the "ugly" extension was encroaching on top of the shared garden wall.
Cllr Angela MacLean said: "I can’t believe any applicant would have done this without contacting the local authority. Were they naive or was it no accident? I don’t know how anyone could do that to a beautiful property without thinking they would need planning. It is sacrilege what they have done to this building."
Cllr Raymond Bremner said: "Whether it is ignorance or just trying to get away with it, it is a bit shocking."
Mr Parkes was defended by Tain councillor Alasdair Rhind, who praised some of the stone repairs done to what was a "derelict" building previously. He also wondered if conservation area designation was dragging down some parts because of the cost of making improvements to protected buildings. He added: "I have spoken to the applicant and he apologised and said he did not know it was a conservation area."
Planning manager Dafydd Jones said negotiations would start with the applicant to make changes to materials and so forth.
Cllr Angela MacLean said: "Cost is not a justification for destruction and changes to that area. We have a responsibility not only to the residents that are there now but also but also to future generations. This should be refused."
Cllr Rhind called for the application to be deferred for negotiation with Mr Parkes, and was seconded by vice-chairman Donnie MacKay.
But after the planning officer called for "a clearer steer" from members, chairwoman Maxine Smith, seconded by Cllr MacLean, moved that the application be refused. This was successful by one vote.