Disbelief as family are told to take down little girl’s playhouse

The Fokt family of Crowland are fighting to keep their playhouse. ANL-140929-100108001
The Fokt family of Crowland are fighting to keep their playhouse. ANL-140929-100108001
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It’s a little girl’s dream, but the playhouse that her dad built in Crowland may have to come down – in spite of neighbours thinking it is “lovely”.

Olivia Fokt (9) spent all winter working on the playhouse design for the back garden of her home in Millfield Gardens, excited after being told by her mum Marta and dad Pawel that she could have one.

Lorry driver Pawel built it himself out of wood and it stands on a platform, prompting a call to South Holland Dristrict Council by, it is believed, a relative of one of the neighbours.

Marta, who moved to England with Pawel from Poland 10 years ago, said: “We bought our home four years ago, but didn’t realise we needed planning permission for the playhouse. We applied straight away but the plan was refused.

“When Olivia found out someone had complained and the playhouse might have to come down she cried all morning.

“But then she started a petition, asking neighbours to support her.”

Olivia, who speaks English and Polish fluently and is now studying French at Holbeach Primary Academy, wrote: “My dad built the house for me and my younger brother because there is nothing for children in the area.

“The council said it is too high and we can see the neighbours. Please sign if you don’t have a problem with it.”

Twenty neighbours signed the petition.

This is the second row with the council over a children’s playhouse in Crowland this year.

In May, Remco Bosma had just finished building a treehouse in a weeping willow in his back garden when a council letter arrived saying it needed a planning application or be taken down “in its entirety”.

Fortunately, his children – Nick (seven), Anouk (five) and Jack (three) – were not left broken hearted as the plan was passed following a consultation with neighbours, in spite of being 3.9metres above ground.

The only hope the Fokt family have now is to appeal as the playhouse is more than 30cm above ground, the legal limit.

Neighbour Kevin Nightingale said: “It’s madness if they are made to move it or lower it. The tree house is beautiful.

“The are lots of trampolines in gardens around here that give views into people’s gardens.

“They are nearly as high. It doesn’t seem fair.”

Roger Gambba-Jones, portfolio holder for planning said: “Following a complaint we investigated and determined that the size and location of the playhouse impacted on neighbours by overlooking their properties.

“The householder was asked to submit a planning application, so that these impacts could be properly assessed.

“In the officer’s judgement, the impacts were serious and could not be overcome so the application was refused.

“The applicant has a right of appeal, but I hope they also take seriously the issues highlighted by the planning officer.”