BUILDERS who ignored planning permission for a home have left a Winchester family pleading with civic chiefs.

Captain and Mrs Kempley Buchan-Smith, who are expecting twins next month, have been fighting to keep their new loft conversion in Hyde despite the dormer window being built higher than the planning application allowed.

The planning committee, held on Thursday (June 12), heard how the couple returned from their holidays to discover their loft conversion, at Egbert Road, had caused problems for their neighbours.

Claims were made the builder has miscalculated the height of the second-floor stairway and adjusted the plans.

Captain Buchan-Smith told councillors: “We are expecting twins at the end of July and we need the extra space. Do the revised plans match what’s been built? Yes. Has this been approved by someone who has visited the house? Yes. My wife and I are keen to get this situation behind us to prepare for the arrival of our children.

“The key point to be decided is whether or not this is legal. The original plans were not built and this has been highlighted. We took immediate action to comply with the planning application and we’d spent a considerable amount of money. We completely agree that it’s unacceptable to flaunt the law.”

But some councillors argued that allowing the build would open doors for rogue traders to ignore future planning restrictions.

Cllr Barry Lipscomb said: “They came back from leave to find this had happened. However, we are here as a planning committee. I’m concerned given this is in a conservation area what sort of message do we send out if we approve this retrospectively? That is not in our longer term best interest. I, at best, will abstain.”

Cllr Frank Pearson said: “The alternative is to take it all down and I’m not sure that’s what the applicant wants.”

Case officer Nick Parker said: “The bottom line is it has been built. If there were no plans you could see whether this would cause any harm. It’s built, it’s there and it’s unfortunate but you’re making the decision on the building before you.”

Eight city councillors voted to give retrospective permission.