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Friends lose battle over treehouse

PUBLISHED: 09:58 19 August 2008 | UPDATED: 14:40 07 July 2010

It has been a long drawn out war between a group of friends who wanted to build an environmentally friendly treehouse for the community, and the local council.

It has been a long drawn out war between a group of friends who wanted to build an environmentally friendly treehouse for the community, and the local council.

But now youth worker Adam Jackson has lost the final battle to keep his unique creation, after a planning inspector ruled it must be taken down.

Mr Jackson, 22, and a group of university mates, started building the 21ft high treehouse in his mother's garden at Brandon Parva, between Dereham and wymondham, several years ago.

The friends wanted to enjoy the great outdoors rather than getting into drink and drugs, and set about making it from second hand materials to ensure it would be as environmentally friendly as possible.

Inside the spectacular building are a spiral staircase, wooden beams, and leaded windows, all of which have been sourced from local companies, leading to several environmental pressure groups throwing their weight behind the cause.

However South Norfolk District Council refused to give the treehouse retrospective planning permission and an order was issued for it to be knocked down.

And now Mr Jackson's appeal against the order has been thrown out, the group have 12 months to remove it.

He said: “Our aim was to have somewhere we could eat pizza and watch the sunset. When we were at university we would make furniture out of unwanted items as an alternative to going out and getting drunk.

“It's a really innocent project and a lot of the youth community has got involved, which has kept them off the streets and given them something to do.

“The council's two main objectives are to protect the environment and support youngsters. So far they've ignored both.

“This environmental flagship and grass roots youth project will be utterly removed on grounds of conservation while exactly the same people have allowed thousands of houses to be built at Costessey and are seriously considering another 3000 at Wymondham.

“I don't feel we have been beaten. A lot of people have written to me saying they're going to seriously re-think who they vote for on the back of this so it has made a difference.”

Towards the end of the campaign to keep the treehouse there were hundreds of signatures on a petition and a Facebook group with 1300 members.

An appeal notice said the inspector threw out a number of grounds for appeal, including that the enforcement notice was incorrect, that the building had not breached planning control because it was incomplete and insignificant and that the steps required by the enforcement notice exceeded what was required to remedy the breach of planning.

However, the inspector upheld an appeal that the two month period to comply with the notice was too short. It has now been extended to a period of 12 months.

Mr Jackson said they would comply with the new order and that before then there had been many groups, including charities and people interested in eco-projects who wanted to see it.

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