AN entrepreneur has won a planning battle to use her £20,000 garden shed as a creche.
Holly Fitzsimons, 27, spent an extra £7,000 on her successful appeal after officials rejected a retrospective planning application in 2020.
The mum-of-one claimed Stockton Council in Co Durham said she did not need planning permission originally and only demanded it when a neighbour complained her creche was too noisy.
Holly, who looked after key workers' kids in the pandemic, said: "I was made to feel like a criminal. Every time I received a letter I was anxious that it was the council.
"It was horrendous. I spent a total of £27K on the building and the battle. I could have spent that on my mortgage or on my daughter.
"It went on for three and a half years, it was very stressful. I was pregnant during some of the dispute which added extra stress.
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"People have bars in their back garden without planning permission but mine was for a childminding business.
"I could understand if it was a nightclub or loud but it was used during business hours or for family at the weekends.
"I've never had any issues with other neighbours and most of them didn't complain about cars being in the street or the shed. It doesn't restrict anyone's view either."
The council originally said the building was created for the purpose of being a child-minding facility" in its initial refusal. It said this meant permission was needed.
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Planning inspector Roy Merrett agreed a "change of use" of the building had occurred, with the main use being childminding.
But he disagreed that the cabin was out of character with the neighbourhood, or that the noise from youngsters was harmful.
The property's driveway must be lengthened within three months for the extra visitors as a result of the permission.
The business must also only operate from 7.30am to 6pm on weekdays and can have up to six children at a time.
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Cllr Nigel Cooke said: "While we are disappointed with the national planning inspector's decision, we are pleased the inspector recognised that the current operations of the business were beyond a reasonable level.
"We accept the decision and will be writing to the business owner with advice on how best to operate within the imposed planning conditions."
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