Dad forced to bulldoze TWO family homes and viewing platform or face JAIL over illegal wooden buildings

A DAD is fuming after being ordered to bulldoze two beautiful countryside homes he built for his family – or face prison.

Michael Merrill completed construction on his land called Six Acres in Wirswall, Cheshire, before being hit by a barrage of complaints from locals and neighbours.

The wooden-clad buildings were built 'illegally' and 'without permission'


The wooden-clad buildings were built ‘illegally’ and ‘without permission’Credit: SWNS
Merrill has been ordered to tear the properties down by January 2025


Merrill has been ordered to tear the properties down by January 2025Credit: SWNS

Cheshire East Council issued the 51-year-old with an enforcement notice in 2014 and stated the properties were erected “without planning permission”.

Officials also blasted the homeowner for having “ignored all other legal steps by the council to have the properties removed”.

The furious dad launched an appeal but this was rejected in 2017.

Then in October 2022, Merrill was given until May 3 the following year to destroy the buildings, which included a viewing platform and areas of hardstanding.

He was also ordered to restore the land to its original condition after being built on.

What are your rights?

Planning permission guidance according to

You will need to request planning permission if you wish to build something new, make a major change to your building or change the use of your building – for example starting a business.

To find out if you need planning permission you should contact your Local Planning Authority through your council.

If planning permission is refused you can appeal.

You are able to appeal if you were refused planning permission for reasons that you think go against the LPA’s development plan or planning policy (you can usually find these on their website).

You can also appeal if you were granted planning permission with conditions you object to – you’ll need to explain why you think they’re unnecessary, unenforceable, vague, unreasonable or irrelevant.

Another ground for appeal is if the LPA has not given you a decision on your application and 8 weeks have passed since the date they told you they’d received it (or a different deadline you agreed with them has passed).

In a bitter decade-long planning row, Merrill was hauled before the High Court in Manchester at the start of the year after failing to comply with these orders.

A judge ordered the dad to tear down his family homes within a year.

He was also slapped with a 12-month suspended prison sentence for contempt of court.

The reeling homeowner has been given until January 2025 to demolish the properties and must vacate the land by July this year.

Cheshire East Council were also awarded £17,409 in addition to £21,000-worth of costs from previous hearings.

My millionaire neighbour turned our village into ‘battlefield’ after 26ft hedge blocked views – now I’ve had last laugh

A council spokesperson said: “He claimed he had the right to ‘live on the land’ and that the Town and Country Planning Act did not apply to him and his wife. This was rejected by the judge.”

Councillor Mick Warren, chair of the environment and communities committee, said: “We do not seek to see people sent to prison for planning offences.

“Action to secure an injunction and an application for contempt of court are a last resort.

“However, where parties show no regard for the planning process in the event of unacceptable and inappropriate development, the council is left with no option but to pursue legal action and, in this instance, the property owners were given considerable time in which to comply with planning regulations.

“It is regrettable that the council had to take this action. Hopefully, the prospect of a 12-month prison sentence will result in compliance.

“The council has incurred substantial costs as well as officer time in this matter and this could have been invested in other areas within council services.

“It was important to ensure that planning law was complied with.”

The Sun contacted Cheshire East Council for comment.

It comes after a man embroiled in a bitter council row was forced to destroy his £25,000 garden or face going to prison.

Richard Hickson forked out £5k for a patch of grass next to his garden in Istead Rise, near Gravesend, Kent and built a 6ft privacy fence around it.

The dad-of-two created the extra space for his five and eight-year-old daughters, and shelled out another £20,000 perfecting it.

But, now his “haven” will have to be opened up to the public.

Despite receiving no complaints from Kent County Council for five years, the 37-year-old is now being threatened with “a fine, imprisonment, or both” if he doesn’t tear down the fence.

Meanwhile, another homeowner who spent £100,000 on a luxury treehouse is “heartbroken” after being told he may have to tear it down.

John Kitson built the one-bed cabin in private woodlands in Morval, Cornwall to create “the perfect hideaway”.

But Mr Kitson now faces the prospect of demolishing the treehouse after becoming locked in a planning war with Cornwall Council.

He promoted his treetop getaway as a glamping destination online but when the council spotted the ad they claimed it was an unlawful safety hazard.

What are your retrospective planning permission rights?

A local planning authority can invite a retrospective application, according to

You should submit your application without delay.

Although a local planning authority may invite an application, you must not assume permission will be granted.

A person who has undertaken unauthorised development has only one opportunity to obtain planning permission after the event. This can either be through a retrospective planning application or an appeal against an enforcement notice – on the grounds that planning permission should be granted or the conditions should be removed.

The local planning authority can decline a retrospective planning application if an enforcement notice has previously been issued.

No appeal may be made if an enforcement notice is issued within the time allowed for determination of a retrospective planning application

The homes were built for Merrill's family in Cheshire


The homes were built for Merrill’s family in CheshireCredit: SWNS
A judge slapped the homeowner with a 12-month suspended sentence for contempt of court


A judge slapped the homeowner with a 12-month suspended sentence for contempt of courtCredit: SWNS


This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.