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You're halving a laugh

Michelle not amused after she is left with a 'half a home' in planning row

By Victor Gordon

Anthony and Michelle Maxwell were in clover when they moved into their idyllic semi-detached cottage in rural Co Armagh five years ago.

The three-bedroom bungalow, set in an acre of land at Derrytrasna near Lurgan, has been valued at around £400,000 with today's sky-high prices.

But now their neighbours are demolishing their half of the two cottages, having received planning approval to build a replacement, detached, two-storey house on their site.

And that will leave the Maxwell house out of kilter and deny them access to the new gable wall that will be created when the cottage next door disappears.

"We're gutted," said mother-of-three Michelle. "What our neighbours are doing is perfectly legal.

"It's all been done within the planning laws.

"But this is a case of the law being an ass.

"It means that one side of our house will have an angled, bevelled roof, while the other side will be sheer as if it had been sliced in half with a guillotine.

"We've tried to persuade our neighbours to match our bungalow on both sides, by bevelling the roof on their side.

"We also asked for access to the gable wall, which will be on their land, but all to no avail.

"We also tried to persuade Craigavon Borough Council to delay the approval, but it went through this week, and work can start anytime."

Sinn Fein councillor Mairead O'Dowd, who tried for a month's delay, said: " The planning laws are unfair in this case.

"The Maxwells will be left with what looks like half a house, and they are really annoyed."

Michelle Maxwell commented: "It means we won't be able to paint or plaster the gable wall, which will, in effect, belong to the neighbours, and we won't be able to clean the guttering.

"We are considering taking the case to court to try and sort out reasonable access."

A spokesman for DoE Planning Services said that home owners did not require planning permission to demolish, and with permission granted for a replacement house the applicants could go ahead and build.

The Belfast Telegraph left a message with the couple's neighbours to contact us, but they declined.

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