Digging a tunnel under your own property without planning consent sounds like most people’s idea of completely crazy. However, You Tube star Colin Furze appears to have got away with exactly that, when he was awarded retrospective planning permission. So, was he being audacious and innovative, or mad as a box of frogs? Here’s a look at what happened!

Mr Furze, from Stamford, Lincolnshire, spent three years painstakingly digging the tunnel himself, despite not having obtained planning permission. He had already built an underground bunker in 2015, and wanted a tunnel to connect the bunker to his house. He describes the bunker as a ‘man cave’, with a media centre and drumkit installed.

He began work on the tunnel in secret in 2018, before going public on his You Tube channel in June last year. The bunker did have planning permission, but the tunnel did not. This however did not deter the intrepid digger, who ploughed on regardless, documenting his progress with a series of short video clips on the social media channel.

The tunnel is 4ft below ground, and is lined with steel and concrete. Furze used a mixture of hand tools and hydraulic digging equipment to make his excavations, with a little help from his friends. Unsurprisingly, he told the Daily Mail that it was one of the hardest things he’d ever done.

He added that he would have argued his case, should consent not have been awarded. Furze said: ‘I suppose we would have had a bit of an argument because you know, I didn’t want to fill it in and you can’t really get rid of it because I mean, if anyone’s seen the videos online, it’s steel, concrete, taking it out would cause more carnage than actually building it.’

He added: ‘I’ll tell you what, I thought I’d get three videos out of it maximum, just digging and building a tunnel. It’s nine videos now and people still want more, it is the one project I’ve done where they just can’t get enough of it. It’s been one of the best YouTube projects I’ve ever done.’

Considering that the tunnel goes under the foundations of his house, shed, and garage, some might express surprise that he got away with it, after applying for retrospective planning permission in April this year.

There is still a short section of the 15-metre-long tunnel to be completed, and South Kesteven District Council will inspect the completed work for health and safety and subsidence issues once this has been done. The rest of the excavations must be carried out within three years.

While Mr Furze’s exploits make for an entertaining story, it’s always advisable to seek full planning permission before beginning an excavation or construction project. Even if your  initial plans are turned down, it may still be possible to make some changes, and be successful on your second attempt.

A cautionary tale from earlier this year is that of Walsall resident Gurwinder Singh. He owned a semi-detached property in the area, and decided to replace it with a larger four-bedroom detached house. However, he failed to obtain full planning permission. And now he has been ordered to demolish it by Walsall Council, the BBC reports.

Mr Singh had been given permission to extend the original property, but he disregarded this, instead demolishing it to build a new house from scratch.

Enforcement officers said: “There is no immediate prospect of an acceptable solution being found and on these terms, demolition is considered proportionate and reasonable”. The report added that the neighbours had suffered considerable stress and disruption during the building works, and despite a retrospective planning application, permission was refused.

If this seems like a huge waste of money and building materials, a far more serious incident occurred near Bolton last year. Five half-built luxury mansions were ordered to be demolished at Grundy Fold Farm, after Bolton Council found significant deviations from the original design specifications.

The developers Sparkle were found to have built the homes at dimensions up to a third larger than originally agreed, and had changed the locations, meaning that they ‘harmed greenbelt land.’ The site is a former farm, with the existing farmhouse being converted into a luxury home, and four additional homes being constructed on the land.

Council barrister Ian Ponter said: “The character of the area is scattered farms, individual rural houses and groups of houses clustered into small villages located below the uplands.”

The developers unsuccessfully appealed against the decision, and have been given 12 months to demolish the homes.

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