A NEIGHBOUR is ‘exploiting’ the planning system by building an extension that overlooks the next-door house, residents have said. 

The original plans — for a two-storey side extension to a house on Enborne Road, Newbury — did not include a window that has been built into the top floor. 

Because the window overlooks into the neighbouring house and garden, and wasn’t in the original plans, the homeowner had to apply for planning permission. 

Simon Moffat, who lives next door, told the western area planning committee at West Berkshire Council on September 25, that the extension window ‘looks directly into our breakfast room’. 

Councillor Andy Moore (Lib Dem, Newbury Central) called in the application to the committee because of the extension overlooking Mr Moffat’s house and garden.

But Cllr Moore also said: “Of more concern to me is the apparent willingness to exploit the planning system.

“The plans were approved but then they’re building something rather different. I felt by calling this in, the applicant might be obliged to take extra steps to justify what had been done. 

“We should surely want to re-enforce the planning system.”

However, Derek Carnegie, a council planning officer, recommended granting permission for the new plans.

Mr Carnegie said: “The impact on neighbouring properties is minimal. The windows will be obscured glazing.” 

Cllr Hilary Cole (Con, Chieveley & Cold Ash) said: “It’s really quite straightforward — neighbourhood disputes are not planning issues. 

“I don’t think there are any issues whatsoever with overlooking. This seems fairly clear cut to me.” 

But Cllr Phil Barnett (Lib Dem, Newbury Greenham) shared the concerns about the impact on the neighbours and the changes to the plans. 

He said: “I felt things weren’t quite as they should be.”

Cllr Adrian Abbs (Lib Dem, Newbury Wash Common) said: “I’m quite glad it has come to the committee. I want to make it very clear: people should follow proper planning process and not make changes willy nilly.” 

Cllr Tony Vickers (Lib Dem, Newbury Wash Common), the vice-chair of the committee, said: “The message needs to go out that applicants, even for small applications like this, need to follow procedures.” 

Mr and Mrs Genko, who live in the house with the extension, did not attend the committee to give their side of the story.

Councillors voted to approve the application.