Father forced to tear down 10ft-high treehouse he built for his children after breaching planning lawsShane MacDonald spent 10 months building the den before being told he should have applied for planning permission
He planned to present it to his two daughters on Christmas Day
14:53 GMT, 3 December 2012
A devoted father has been ordered to tear down a treehouse he built as a Christmas present for his children because it breached planning laws.
Shane MacDonald, 27, spent 10 months building the 10ft-high den before being told he should have applied for planning permission first.
Planners at South Derbyshire District Council have given Mr MacDonald 28 days to dismantle the timber tree house or face legal proceedings.
Heartbroken: Shane MacDonald's daughter Scarlett in front of the den which must now come down
Gift: Mr MacDonald planned to present the treehouse to his daughters on Christmas Day
Mr MacDonald, a joiner, spent every weekend working on the structure in the back garden of his council house in Midway, near Swadlincote, Derbyshire.
He started the project after seeing a similar tree house on a family holiday and planned to present it to his two daughters, Saphire, six, and Scarlett, four, on Christmas Day.
But weeks before the big day, planing chiefs ordered him to remove it or face prosecution.
Yesterday he said: 'My children did nothing but cry when we told them and they are heartbroken.
'We have been told we have to take it down or the council will take action and we will have to pay the costs for it.
'I have spoken to many residents, council workers and even councillors, and all agree the council is bang out of order.
Under construction: Shane has spent 10 months building the treehouse in the family's garden
Devoted: The joiner spent every weekend working on the structure at his council home
Threat: Council planners say the den must come down or Shane will face legal action
'All anyone wants is a safe place for their kids to play.
'The tree house would have been great for kids’ birthday parties and things like that.
'I suppose I will have to take it down but I want to get something else sorted for the girls instead, like a Wendy house.
'We asked all neighbours up and down our road before we started so we could sort out any differences, but all was okay and many couldn’t wait to see it start going up.'
Mr MacDonald ’s wife Lisa, 27, added: 'The kids are completely distraught, they were really looking forward to playing in their little tree house.
'They are gutted, it could ruin Christmas for us. It was going to be their big present.'
Unhappy: Mr MacDonald's daughters were said to be 'gutted' by the council's orders
Caring: The parents said all they wanted was to have somewhere safe for their children to play
Planners swooped on the property after receiving a complaint from a neighbour and told Mr MacDonald the treehouse breached planning laws because it was more than 10ft in height in some places.
A council spokesman said: 'We came to the conclusion that a development such as this, under national law, needed planning permission, which was neither applied for nor granted.
'We also have a duty of care to ensure our tenants are safe and secure at all times.
'After inspecting the structure, it was clear it could put anyone who uses it at risk of harm.
'We are continuing to talk to to come to a solution moving forward.
'To use Mr MacDonald’s words, we want to help ensure that there is a safe place for the kids to play.'