Disabled Plymouth woman abandons extension plan over drains row
A ROW over a sewer which is stopping a disabled woman from extending her home has taken a new twist – with an MP weighing in to raise fresh concerns.
The Herald reported earlier this month on 41-year-old Lucy Crowley, who lives with multiple sclerosis (MS) and needs constant care.
The council granted her permission to build an extension to her home in Church Way, Weston Mill, which would feature a downstairs toilet and living space for her parents-in-law who care for her.
But South West Water (SWW) said it would get in the way of a public sewer and told Mrs Crowley she would have to pay £2,220 just to have a survey done before the drain could be moved.
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City MP Alison Seabeck has now raised questions over how the plans ever got the go-ahead from Plymouth City Council in the first place.
Mrs Crowley has now decided to ditch the plan, meaning more than £1,000 in wasted fees and uncertainty about her future care.
"Unless we pay the £2,220 they will not say how much the sewer diversion will cost," she said.
"Obviously we are funding it ourselves but we have only got a certain amount of money, and if we pay that £2,220 only to find out that it's going to cost us £10,000 to £15,000 we definitely can't go ahead, so we will have wasted that money."
Ms Seabeck, Labour MP for Plymouth Moor View, questioned the actions of SWW and the council's planning committee, which granted permission for the scheme on January 11.
She said: "I have written to the chief executive of SWW and I am concerned about the way in which planning was granted without, it seems, fully taking into consideration the fact that there is a public sewer running outside the property.
"Mrs Crowley is facing serious illness and this is all horribly stressful for her. But she must not give up."
A council spokeswoman said: "South West Water is consulted on all planning applications received by the council via the weekly list.
"SWW generally writes to advise the council and the applicant or agent if there are issues with an application, to allow for plans to be re-designed through the course of the planning process if possible.
"SWW did not write to us in relation to this particular application but the company would have sent the agent its standard response.
"The design and access statement submitted by the agent with the application suggests he was already aware that consent from SWW would be required."
SWW wrote to Mrs Crowley's architect, Robert Boardman, stating: "It is highly recommended that you contact us in the early stages of the planning process regarding your proposals.
"Failure to do so can result in delays to your building work or lead to you being faced with extra costs.
"Please note that the granting of planning permission or building regulation approval does not give consent or permission to carry out construction works either over or close to South West Water's apparatus, you will need the consent of South West Water as well'."
In his design and access statement, Mr Boardman acknowledged that "permission from South West Water will be required to build over the existing drainage run."
But Mrs Crowley maintains that she had no idea of the cost when she started the application process.
"It is not good for me but my other concern is how many other people this is going to affect," she added.
"I have MS but there are people much worse off then me."