Kidney patient refused Halifax home extension for medical equipment

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A bid to build a bigger extension to accommodate dialysis equipment for a member of a family has been rejected.

Members of Calderdale Council’s Planning Committee were split down the middle over the application which officers had recommended they refuse on grounds it would set a precedent which might have repercussions on extension applications for years to come.

Committee chairman Coun Steve Sweeney (Lab, Todmorden) cast his deciding vote backing officers’ recommendation.

Members heard Mr Mohammed Yaqub had applied for a single storey extension to the family’s home at West View, Halifax.

A six metre extension was permitted under delegated powers in the summer but this application would be another 2.6 metres deep.

Coun Faisal Shoukat (Lab, Park) presented the case to committee for Mr Yaqub, his childhood friend, his declared personal interest meaning he could not vote or take part in debate about the application.

He said his friend’s kidneys had failed and he needed dialysis treatment and the family wanted to care for him at home, which meant building an extension big enough for dialysis machinery.

It would not be visible from the main road with the only impact being on Mr Yaqub’s neighbours who had no concerns whatsoever, said Coun Shoukat.

To compound Mr Yaqub’s personal medical situation he also had stage two arthritis and eventually his mobility would be very limited.

Mr Yaqub told the committee the extension was for no other purpose than to house the equipment for his dialysis and related hygiene matters, allowing his family to look after him as his medical conditions worsened.

Planning lead Richard Seaman told councillors he had thought long and hard before making the refusal recommendation.

He had to do so on balance because to allow it would set a planning precedent.

The extension proposed would be along the full length of garden space and would impact on neighbours.

It was an issue from a planning point of view because it could be argued at appeals in future should the council turn down any similar application that a precedent had been set.

Coun Paul Bellenger (Lib Dem, Greetland and Stainland) said things had to be put into perspective and he was happy to go against officers’ recommendations and approve the plan.

Coun Colin Peel (Con, Brighouse) asked if it might be allowed because of the exceptional circumstances of the case, with a condition clarifying the approval to that effect.

But Coun Stephen Baines (Con, Northowram and Shelf) said it would set a precedent as far as the planning system was concerned. “It sets a dangerous precedent and we would have difficulty refusing any other extensions in the future,” he said.

Coun David Kirton (Con, Hipperholme and Lightcliffe) agreed although he was not happy do so and had sympathy with Mr Yaqub’s situation.

Legal advice could not give a certain answer on whether Mr Yaqub’s situation would be classed as “exceptional circumstances” as far as case law showed, Coun Bellenger was told.

Mr Seaman further explained planners could only really decide on planning matters and could not be arbiters over personal circumstances.