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Friday, 25 April 2014

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Couple celebrate after 10 year fight to convert Cumbria public toilets

A COUPLE who have fought a 10-year planning battle have finally won permission to turn a former block of toilets into a holiday cottage.

Nick Twitchett, 51, and his wife Marie, 49, have won an appeal which allows them to live and sleep in the property, the old council-owned public loos in Long Lane, Goadsbarrow, that they bought in 2003.

It has taken them five applications, a change in building use to an artist’s studio and a visit by a government inspector to secure the ruling.

Mr Twitchett, who works as an architect, said: “It has been frustrating. It has been a very long battle.

“We sometimes had in the back of our minds whether it was all worth it, but we didn’t want to give up.’’

The Twitchetts bought the empty toilets near Roose in 2003, and applied in May that year to convert the building into holiday accommodation.

However, it was refused by South Lakeland District Council at the time as the area had “already exceeded its housing target” and Goadsbarrow was “not a settlement appropriate for further residential development”.

In 2005, the council passed plans for the building to change its use to an artist’s painting studio. However, one condition was for the premises to have no residential use, meaning the couple couldn’t sleep there.

Mr Twitchett said: “Our intention was to be able to stay overnight at the property. We could work there all night but if we fell asleep then it would be deemed a residential property.”

The Twitchetts made a fresh application to turn the studio into a dwelling last year. But it was again refused by SLDC planners in December.

A government planning inspector was then appointed to review the decision, following an appeal by the couple.

She ruled against the council last week, granting permission for the Twitchetts to finally change the use of the building to a dwelling.

The couple have no plans to extend the property, but want to renovate the inside.

A spokeswoman for South Lakeland District Council said: “It was the inspector’s decision as the application was turned down by the council.

“It was appealed against and overruled.”

The Twitchetts had originally wanted to turn the toilets into a family getaway, where they could holiday with their two young children.

However, 10 years later, their children have now grown up, and are aged 21 and 19.

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