A homeowner has been ordered to demolish a patio and annex after a community used imagery from space to spy on him.
Colin Thomas, 65, is embroiled in a planning dispute that prompted officials in Dorset to search Google images from above.
He hoped to take advantage of a loophole in the planning statutes to leave the two new buildings at the front and back of his Portland home.
He is said to have believed that they fell under the allowable building rights for homeowners and therefore did not obtain planning permission.
Mr Thomas applied to Dorset Council to make both structures legal under a regime that recognizes all changes of ownership that have been in place for four years.
He said that shortly after purchasing the home in 2012, a raised patio measuring 20 feet by 16 feet was built at the front of his home.
He was supported by his client and friends who have visited the terraced house over the past decade.
But planning officer Thomas Wild looked up the property on Google Earth and Google Street View.
And he noted that the current covering and a stern extension were absent from satellite photos taken as recently as September 2020.
In a report to the council’s planning committee, he concluded that the rear extension was built between this month and June 2022.
Mr Wild added: “Therefore, the court has existed for less than four years and has not acquired immunity from enforcement action on that basis.”
He also shared that there was a raised deck at the front in Google photos from 2016 and 2021 – albeit a different deck than today.
He reported that the original deck was made of wood, but the current structure is composite planks with artificial turf – and the replacement is larger than the original.
He added, “Although it is believed that the original wooden deck had become immune to enforcement action around 2016, that immunity was lost when the deck was removed.”
“The construction of the decking boards are new violations of design control that do not benefit from previously acquired immunity.”
The local authority denied Mr Thomas’ application and he now faces demolition of both the raised terrace and rear extension.
A council spokesman said: “The available evidence from Google Street View imagery suggests that the decking board currently on the site is different from the decking board that was built in 2012.”
“The new deck is larger, has a different design, and has a garage underneath. Therefore, it is considered a new violation of planning control.
“There is an ongoing enforcement investigation into the site and the next step will be to consider the advisability of enforcement action against the works.”
Mr Thomas is entitled to appeal, they added.
In his application to the council he had submitted a signed statement saying that when the house was bought in August 2012 there had been work including “a small rear extension” and “a covered area at the front”.
Hugh Cox, who built the extension and decking, also submitted a signed statement stating that he carried out work there in December 2012.
And Mr Thomas’s friend, Liam Bargery, wrote to the councillor, saying he had been a regular visitor for the past decade and there had always been a rear extension and artificial grass on the terrace.