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Penarth grandmother fears homelessness in planning row

A PENARTH grandmother could soon become homeless after authorities refused to consider her property as a home.

Joy Atkinson was happy to move to Penarth to be closer to her daughter and grandchildren.

Joy Atkinson moved to Penarth to be closer to her grandchildren.

Joy Atkinson, 61, faces eviction by 29 September 2016 after numerous appeals and petitions have come to nothing.

Cleaner Ms Atkinson bought an artist’s studio at 34A Plassey Street, Penarth for £90,000 in December 2013, the first property she has bought on her own.

She said: “The owner said it would be easy to get a residential permit. They said I would have to pay the council £1,000 for the planning application so I factored that into my buying cost. I was also told if I lived there for four years and kept my head down it would automatically become residential.

“But I wanted to do everything properly and to the book so I applied for a planning application.”

Joy Atkinson's property at 34A Plassey Street, Penarth.

Joy Atkinson’s property at 34A Plassey Street, Penarth.

Penarth Town Council initially supported Ms Atkinson’s application but its decision was overthrown by Vale of Glamorgan Council.

The Vale refused to accept the property as a home because it “detracted from the residential amenity of the adjoining occupiers”.

Ms Atkinson unsuccessfully appealed against the refusal in January 2015 and Vale of Glamorgan Council issued an Enforcement Notice telling her to stop living in the property on which she pays council tax.

In a last desperate attempt, she went to the UK Planning Inspectorate. They rejected two of her appeals and backed the decision of the council. She was given an extended period of 12 months to move out.

The hearing inspector said: “The Inspector concludes that the provision of the entire dwelling with only one window situated at one end providing any outlook would result in inadequate and unsatisfactory living conditions for its occupants.”

Ms Atkinson has made efforts to improve the property, most recently spending £1,000 on a gate for her neighbours, who have no objections to her living in the Studio. She also plans to change her window arrangements because the planning inspectors had problems with her view into a neighbour’s garden.

The inside of Ms Atkinson's home.

The inside of Ms Atkinson’s home.

She said: “I just want to live here. It doesn’t matter to me that it has a small bedroom and living room. Anyone who saw the place would understand. It’s lovely.”

The Inspector ruled that even if Ms Atkinson was happy with her living conditions, the Planning Inspectorate could not make an exception for her.

Ms Atkinson has been in touch with Homes4U, a Vale of Glamorgan affordable housing allocation scheme. She has been issued with a a third tier bronze level of need and has applied for a social housing property in Penarth.

The grandmother fears she will end up homeless.

“I don’t earn enough to pay rent,” she said. “They would be expecting me to work another 10 hours a week to be able to pay rent and that’s just not realistic at my age.”

Ms Atkinson has also set up a petition called Vale of Glamorgan to make me HOMELESS, which has 372 signatures of support and more than 100 comments.

It states: “Nearly all my money went on purchasing the studio. I wouldn’t be able to get much money back if I sold or indeed could sell the studio to buy elsewhere.

“I don’t earn enough to pay rent and live. Making me HOMELESS!!

“If anyone has any ideas as to what I can do I would be very grateful. Never having been or know anyone who has been in this situation before, I am really out of my depth here.”