A man was horrified to recieve a fine of more than £24,000 after forgetting to hand in one sheet of a planning form while building an extension to care for his ill 81-year-old stepfather.

Mark Walker has been hit with a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) charge of £21,774.35, plus a surcharge of £2,500 by Three Rivers District Council, which he will have to pay upfront.

He had received planning permission to build an extension to his home in Cedars Avenue, Rickmansworth, for his step-father John Robert to move to while he recovers from a heart condition, cancer and at least one stroke.

Mr Walker filled in the forms to apply for exemption from the charge and this was granted in October 2017.

But the exemption was later removed because he forgot to return a one page document when he started work.

He admitted he made a mistake but feels the penalty is “totally out of kilter” with the error as the council says there is nothing it can do.

Watford Observer:

Mr Walker will struggle to pay for the remainder of the extension to be completed after being fined thousands of pounds

Mr Walker said: “This is a demand that is like a dagger through the heart of my family. We have a huge fine hanging over our heads and we are all suffering from stress and anxiety; not least my 81 year old stepfather, who just wants to know that he has family nearby should he need them.

“We have stretched ourselves to the limit with this project and this could well push us over the edge. This is an outrageous and disproportionate penalty for a minor procedural error, which has no effect on the material nature of the project.

“I am not claiming poverty, but what normal family can just put their hands on an extra £24,000 out of the blue – especially when they have just moved house and are involved in a building project?”

The Community Infrastructure Levy is imposed by local councils to raise funds to help pay for infrastructure such as schools or transport improvements when new homes and businesses are built.

A spokesperson for the council responded: “This is a planning charge, introduced by the Planning Act 2008 as a tool for local authorities in England and Wales to help deliver infrastructure to support the development of their area.

“There are very clear regulations around when and how CIL is charged. Mr Walker has acknowledged that he failed to respond to council officers who consistently advised of what he needed to do to secure an exemption to the CIL payments required, which were due to the size of extensions he intended to build being over 100sq m.

“Mr Walker has already appealed unsuccessfully to the Valuation Office Agency.”