A Croydon woman who built an indoor swimming pool without planning permission has been fined £7,000 and ordered to pull it down.
Shussana Kadiana Palmer from Downsview Road, Upper Norwood, was found guilty of “unauthorised development” after she “failed to comply with an enforcement notice” sent by Croydon Council on September 3, 2014.
Palmer was convicted on April 26, and was fined £1000 for not following the standard height requirements set out by the council for her indoor swimming pool. She was also ordered to pay over £5000 for the cost of the pool, and a £300 surcharge.
Palmer moved to the USA in 2007, and had not lived in the property since. Her mother has been watching the house in her daughter’s absence. Not wishing to be named, she said: “The council…served an enforcement notice that nobody received because nobody lives [at the house.] The local authorities had known this.”
Palmer, who suffers from arthritis, built the indoor swimming pool without planning permission, according to her mother: “Because you do not need to apply for planning permission for outbuildings. There [are] only two forms of exercise suitable for Shussana: she can walk short distances, or she swims.”
Her mother also said that although Palmer doesn’t currently live in the UK, she intends to come back. “In the winter (…) it gets cold, and anyone with arthritis finds it hard to move and becomes a vegetable,” she added. The indoor pool was built to alleviate the symptoms of he daughter’s arthritis.
A Croydon Council spokesperson said: “The notice had been served because the unauthorised development considered to have an adverse impact upon neighbours.” The council also felt the new developments at her property were “out of character within the surrounding area.” And “the notice requires the demolition of the unauthorised outbuildings.”
Councillor Alison Butler, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for homes, regeneration and planning, warned residents of the consequence of illegal construction: “This should be a lesson to anybody considering going ahead with ill-conceived developments in contravention of planning directives put in place to protect the local environment and neighbouring residents who might be adversely affected.”
Palmer did not attend her hearing at Croydon Crown Magistrate Court on 26 April. “Shussanna has back problems and arthritis in her spine,” according to her mother. “It is excruciatingly painful for her [to travel long distances]. [The Council] havs been told all this but wanted her here.
“She was not going to risk her health for an outbuilding. If they had been more compassionate (…) this wouldn’t have gone to court.”
The offences included “steel-framed, timber-clad outbuildings covering a swimming pool and spa, an over-height boundary wall, and raised land levels in the rear garden of her property,” the court heard.
Croydon Council officers say they will continue to check her home to ensure that a “satisfactory outcome” is reached.
Councillor Butler said: “If you’re looking to develop your property, please seek planning advice – and then take it!
“This householder has learned, to her cost, that the planning laws are there for a reason, and are not to be trifled with.”
Palmer’s mother and her family are still fighting the case and said: “This outbuilding was to cover the swimming pool, and it is going to be rebuilt again. We are still going to apply, and if they refuse, this case may blow up again.
“The council must be honest. They knew that the letter was not opened, they knew that the property was empty. A complaint has been made to the Croydon Council officers over the way they have handled this. It is a matter of principle.”