A UK family has been left reeling after their neighborhood council demanded that they tear down their homemade treehouse that has served as a “safe place” for the last year for their daughter, who has autism, Tourette’s syndrome, and sensory processing disorder.
Richard Williams started work on the project last year and says he has “put a lot into it” for the sake of giving his 11-year-old daughter a place where she can get away from the world, get some fresh air, and be totally herself.
However, not everyone in the neighborhood agreed that the treehouse was a good idea. After receiving a complaint from one of Richard’s neighbors, the Harrogate Borough Council looked into the issue and determined that the family would have to tear the whole structure back down.
“It’s totally wrong that we have to take it down, especially when it was a safe place for my daughter to go,” says Richard. “Everything was fine until I received an email from my landlord’s agent mentioning a complaint from one neighbour saying the treehouse was an invasion of their privacy. A few days later, the council visited our house and told me I would have to take it down, as it breached regulations.”
Richard says he is not aware of any rule stating he cannot build a treehouse in his backyard., especially since it is not considered a permanent structure.
“I’ve spent many hours and lots of money building it […] upwards of £500,” says Richard. “I work full-time on the front line and put my spare time and money into building this for my daughter and other children. It’s disgusting that I’ve now had to tear it apart.”
The Harrogate Borough Council has claimed to be sympathetic to the family’s plight. However, they say their hands are tied due to the strict planning rules for the area.
“Each circumstance is different, and we always advise residents to get in touch with us before they begin designing and building one, so that we can let them know what is and isn’t permitted,” a spokesperson reported.
“We love a treehouse as much as anyone but, sadly, in this instance, the treehouse breaches planning regulations, as it is fixed to the ground and exceeds height restrictions. Despite being considered temporary structures, planning permission can sometimes be required. We know this is disappointing for Mr. Williams and his daughter.”
Richard, however, says the situation isn’t fair to his daughter, who already struggles enough to cope with her conditions.
“I’ve told everyone the treehouse was for my daughter and that my children aren’t interested in looking into anyone else’s garden,” he says. “When everything gets too much, this would have been a place where she could go to get out of the way, to get some fresh air and peace and quiet. But nobody seems at all bothered by that fact.”
We hope that Tiana’s family is able to come up with another solution to help her get some time to herself while still remaining within the confines of local regulations. We all deserve a place where we can get away and be ourselves!Whizzco