Funeral director with serious lung condition devastated after Wakefield Council blocks downstairs bedroom extension

Phil Normington, with his wife Ingrid at their home in Havercroft
Phil Normington, with his wife Ingrid at their home in Havercroft

A funeral director with serious breathing problems has been stopped from building a downstairs bedroom, after Wakefield Council said the extension breached planning regulations.

Philip Normington, 52, says he has the lungs of a man 30 years older than himself because he suffers from COPD - a blanket term used to describe a group of conditions which affect the sufferer's breathing.

Phil and Ingrid said they've been left "disheartened" by the ruling.

Phil and Ingrid said they've been left "disheartened" by the ruling.

Mr Normington, who runs his business out of the same property at his home in Havercroft, broke down in tears at a meeting on Thursday where he was appealing for permission to continue building an extension for the bedroom.

He said he needed the bedroom so he can avoid using stairs, as he expects he will soon have to use a wheelchair.

Wakefield Council said it sympathised with Mr Normington's circumstances, but its planning committee ruled the extension could not be built because it was on green belt land.

Green belt rules say any extension must increase a building's size by no more than 50 per cent. Mr Normington's property would have been 85 per cent bigger in floor space had the work continued, according to the council's survey.

The couple had started building the extension, and said they were not aware they needed planning permission.

The couple had started building the extension, and said they were not aware they needed planning permission.

But addressing councillors directly at the meeting, Mr Normington pointed out at a petrol station had once been close by on the land, which is now being classed as green belt.

He said: "I’m 52 years old and I’ve got the lungs of an 82 year-old. My health is declining.

"I’m told this doesn’t matter because it’s green belt. But it used to be a petrol station.

"If it’s so sensitive, why was there a petrol station on it?"

Hemsworth councillor Ian Womersley had supported the couple's application.

Hemsworth councillor Ian Womersley had supported the couple's application.

Mr Normington was criticised by councillors for having started the work without having sought planning permission, but he claimed his architect had not informed him he needed it.

He said: "I’ve just done what I was advised.

"I’m a funeral director. I don’t know about planning issues. I went with the expert advice that I was given."

Breaking down with the strain of emotion, he added: "I work so hard. I've had no help whatsoever.

Hemsworth councillor Ian Womersley supported Mr Normington's application, telling the committee that no neighbours had objected to the extension.

But all but one member of the committee voted against the building work, after council officers recommended it be refused.

Julie Haycock said: "We obviously sympathise with the applicant's health problems, but under the rules they are not considered special circumstances needed to approve the application.

"The size of the extension would be disproportionate."

Speaking after the meeting, Philip's wife Ingrid wife accused councillors of "lacking compassion".

She said: "I know they've got a job to do, but I found them very cold towards Philip.

"We had a doctor's note explaining his condition. If the fact he's got the lungs of an 82 year-old aren't special circumstances, then I don't know what it is.

"I'm just so disheartened and upset by it."

The Normingtons also point out that they'd previously been granted planning permission for a double extension to the property. The council now says that they made a mistake in allowing that to be built, because their officers miscalculated its size.

Local Democracy Reporting Service