A COUPLE who built a house without planning permission have knocked it down after losing an appeal.

Travellers Elvey Upton and husband David Cooper demolished the two-storey building in Cranfield Park Avenue, Wickford, after losing their appeal to the planning inspectorate.

The couple argued they were merely upgrading accommodation for a man called Paul Lawton, 69, who had been living with permission in an old farm barn on the site since 1992.

Mr Lawton, who has severe learning disabilities, has been cared for by the couple’s family since he was 16, after he left an orphanage.

The couple claimed to care for him and said his rent was paid by Basildon Council through housing benefits.

During a planning hearing at the Basildon Centre last month, the couple argued in early 2010 they noticed the accommodation, which only had two rooms and an outside shower and toilet, was not up to scratch.

The council served an order to demolish the property in July 2010, but the couple appealed to the planning inspectorate.

The couple said demolishing the barn and replacing it with a standard home in May 2010 had been to improve conditions for Mr Lawton and they did not believe permission was needed.

However, the council argued it was a complete redevelopment, the house was an inappropriate development in the green belt, and there was no guarantee it was for Mr Lawton to live in.

The inspector agreed.

Gerry Levelle, the council’s head of environmental and community services, said: “Effective development control is a vital aspect of the borough’s infrastructure. Without a consistent approach it is not worth the paper it’s written on.

“Green belt land is not there for the taking and the council will take action to ensure the development guidelines for this type of land are respected.”