A couple have been told they’re not allowed to turn their garage into a house extension – despite having already built it.

Mr and Mrs Armstrong of Atte Lane in Warfield say they converted their garage after Bracknell Forest Council staff told them they wouldn’t need planning permission over the phone.

But the council’s planning department later ruled it couldn’t allow the loss in parking space – and says it has no record of giving the advice, which it wouldn’t normally do over the phone.

In a planning statement submitted to the council, designers and surveyors TR Harris say Mr and Mrs Armstrong had been told they didn’t need planning permission as the conversion was in their ‘permitted development rights’.

Yet the statement says the couple has no record of who they spoke to.

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‘Permitted development’ normally allows homeowners to extend their homes without having to get planning permission. But planning conditions placed on Atte Lane when it was built in the 1990s said the garages had to be kept open to vehicles ‘at all times’.

So when planning officers found out this had been breached they sent a letter to Mr and Mrs Armstrong informing them. TR Harris said: “The property has recently had the garage converted for habitable use.

“The current owners, Mr & Mrs Armstrong, contacted the planning department by phone and were advised that the work would not require planning approval as the work would fall within their Permitted Development Rights. Unfortunately, the advice given over the phone was incorrect.

“Unfortunately, the current owner does not have a record of the person that they spoke to. The council became aware of the contravention and a letter was served on Mr & Mrs Armstrong advising of the breach.”

TR Harris also argued that the garages on Atte Lane are too small for modern cars. But planning officers said the garage met the standards at the time original planning permission was granted ‘and cannot be held against current standards.’

They also said that future owners with a smaller car might benefit from having a garage – and that a lack of off-street parking was already causing problems in the area, with cars mounting the pavement.

They said allowing the conversion would ‘set a precedent’ that would lead to even more cars parking on the side of the road.

Bracknell Forest Council’s planning department told the News it has no record of having given Mr and Mrs Armstrong advice over the phone – and wouldn’t normally do so.

The department said: “The Council has no written record of this advice being given. Usually, advice is not given over the phone for site specific enquiries as it requires further research into the planning history of the site.”