Couple fined over 'secret' house hidden in garage

Dwelling inside garage Image copyright Blaby District Council
Image caption The garage door was found propped against the garage, the council said

A couple have been fined for building a "secret" house inside a garage.

The property, complete with front door, was also hidden from view behind a tall wooden fence on an estate in Enderby, Leicestershire.

Reeta Herzallah and Hamdi Almasri, who denied deliberately trying to hide the "habitable accommodation", were ordered to pay more than £2,000 each.

Blaby District Council said the couple's actions were "completely unacceptable".

Inspectors issued a notice that the garage be changed back and fence removed, but subsequent visits showed this had not happened.

An application for retrospective planning permission was refused.

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At Leicester Magistrates' Court last week, Herzallah and Almasri, who did not attend or enter a plea, were each ordered to pay a £770 fine for breaching the orders, legal costs of £1,252, and a £77 victim surcharge.

Image copyright Blaby District Council
Image caption The work breached regulations on preserving off-street parking

In a Facebook post, Ms Herzallah said the couple were "hard working" and "law abiding".

She said they were advised by a builder that the conversion, in Old Church Road, was permitted and denied deliberately trying to hide the work.

Officials said they first investigated the problem in October 2015 and found the conversion, as well as an unauthorised access to a nearby dual carriageway.

Sheila Scott, portfolio holder for planning at Blaby District Council, said: "The message from this case is clear. If you breach planning regulations and ignore us we will not just go away.

"Creating an access onto the busy B4114 and blocking off valuable off-road parking space was completely unacceptable."

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