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Home » Furious Couple Ordered To Demolish £100k Extension Even Though They Have Planning Permission After Making A VERY Big Blunder

Furious Couple Ordered To Demolish £100k Extension Even Though They Have Planning Permission After Making A VERY Big Blunder

A wealthy couple have been ordered to demolish the £100,000 extension they built for their elderly parents at their eight acre estate they bought for £2.1million – after unwittingly building it on land that didn’t belong to them.

Haulage boss Wayne Noke and his wife Natalie were granted planning permission for the construction at their sprawling home in the Hampshire New Forest last summer.

But with it nearing completion, they have had to down tools after Forestry England came knocking on their door to tell them of their blunder and threatening them with legal action.

The couple, who bought the five bedroom home and accompanying cottage in August 2021, were told the land they were building on did not belong to them but was ‘Crown land’.

Work has now been halted at their property in the village of Bartley, amid fears they will have to tear down the oak frame and slatted roof structure.

Wealthy couple Wayne Noke and his wife Natalie (pictured) have been ordered to demolish the £100,000 extension they built for their elderly parents at their eight acre estate they bought for £2.1million – after unwittingly building it on land that didn’t belong to them

Haulage boss Wayne Noke and his wife Natalie were granted planning permission for the construction at their sprawling home in the Hampshire New Forest last summer

The couple, who bought the five bedroom home and accompanying cottage in August 2021, were told the land they were building on did not belong to them but was ‘Crown land’ (the boundary shown with dashed red line)

But with it nearing completion, they have had to down tools after Forestry England came knocking on their door to tell them of their blunder and threatening them with legal action

The Nokes had bought the home and grounds along with her parents – Michael and Catherine Drummond – in what was a ‘dream’ scenario that would see them live close together but ensure they stayed independent.

Due to Mr Drummond, 80, suffering from Parkinson’s they decided to apply for planning permission for an extension of the cottage to enable him to live on the ground floor.

At that point they had no idea – and neither did their solicitor – that not all of the land was theirs.

But last September FE officials paid a visit to inform them the cottage has a strip around it on three sides that does not belong them.

A licence for use has been in force since 1983 preventing other people using it but it does not permit the Nokes to build on it.

The couple insist a subsequent letter from Forestry England informing them of the land’s real ownership was the first they’d heard of it – as the licence was not included on the title deeds.

Now, the ‘innocent’ couple – who run a haulage company together – are hoping common sense will prevail and an agreement can be reached via a land swap, purchasing the land, or by changing the terms of the licence to allow them to build on it.

According to its website 90 per cent of The New Forest – established more than 1,000 years ago by William the Conqueror – is owned by The Crown and has been managed by Forestry England since 1923.

Mrs Noke, 53, said: ‘It’s a house we’ve known for many, many years and we were fortunate enough to be able to buy it and have my parents in the cottage.’

The Nokes had bought the home and grounds along with her parents – Michael (centre) and Catherine Drummond – in what was a ‘dream’ scenario that would see them live close together but ensure they stayed independent

The boundary of the property marked in red shows the land that was not theirs despite the planning permission

She admitted it was a ‘dream’ scenario to have her parents so close-by, but wanted to help maintain her father’s independence by building an extension which meant he didn’t have to climb the stairs.

This ‘modest’ proposal was granted permission by New Forest National Park and work commenced in summer last year.

However, in September 2023 the couple – who have two university age daughters – received a letter from Forestry England which informed them the extension they were building ‘was partly on Crown land’.

Attached to the letter was a copy of a licence which informed the homeowners the ‘land around the cottage’ was owned by Forestry England.

Mr Noke revealed neither their solicitors nor the previous homeowners were aware of this licence as it is not on the title deeds.

Mrs Noke, 53, said: ‘I know ignorance isn’t an excuse – but there wasn’t anything we were told about that made us aware of it.

‘We have made an error in innocence, it’s a genuine mistake.

As a result of halting work, Mrs Noke said her father is living in their lounge, so he can access a toilet without having to go upstairs.

‘At the end of the day, our thing is if there are possible options, however lengthy, who is gaining from hauling it down?’ she said.

‘The fence is still there, people won’t be able to use the land.

‘What are they gaining by insisting we take it down?

‘If we had done it on purpose, then I’d get it.

‘I just feel we are in such a different position to that – can we find a way around it with humility.

‘We are the innocent party that has fallen foul of a procedure,’ she added.

The original cottage as it stood in 1969

In January, Mr Noke, 52 – who has lived in the New Forest for some 30 years – appealed to the New Forest’s Verderers’ Court – the ancient body responsible for the upkeep of the forest – for their support of a land swap solution

In January, Mr Noke, 52 – who has lived in the New Forest for some 30 years – appealed to the New Forest’s Verderers’ Court – the ancient body responsible for the upkeep of the forest – for their support of a land swap solution.

The mechanic told the open court: ‘I applied for planning permission on the belief that I had ownership of the land having had no indication otherwise.

‘I would not have applied for planning permission if l thought that the land did not belong to me.’

He continued: ‘We are therefore left in a situation whereby there is a small area of forestry land – which we previously believed to be ours – which is inaccessible to Commoner or the public.

‘[FE] have written to us to demand that we take down the extension failing which legal proceedings will be taken against us.

‘We regard ourselves as innocent parties in all of this and want to try and resolve the matter amicably for the benefit of all parties and without the need for legal proceedings.’

The couple suggested they would be willing to do a ‘land swap’ with Forestry England which ‘would require the consent of the Verderers’.

In response to the ‘illegal encroachment’, the Verderers said: ‘It was agreed that it is not for the Court to decide the way forward to resolve this dispute.

‘A land swap will be considered should Forestry England bring forward a proposal that is supported by all landowners concerned.

‘However, it will have to be on a value basis not area for area.

‘The Court has generally only agreed land swaps in exceptional circumstance and where such a swap is in the public, rather than merely a private interest.’

In light of the comments, the couple are now awaiting a response from Forestry England.

Mrs Noke said she remained optimistic a compromise could be reached, adding: ‘That’s what I’m hoping.’

She has written to local MP for the New Forest East, the Rt Hon Dr Julian Lewis. Dr Lewis, who is ‘supportive’ of their mix-up.

A spokesperson for Forestry England said: ‘We have been in discussion on this matter with Mr Noke directly and via legal representation since the very early stages of the building work.

‘The issues focus on building carried out on Forestry England land designated and protected as part of the New Forest. Whilst these discussions are ongoing we can’t provide further comment.’