Treehouse saved as city planners overruled

Sarah Winkler and her children Beatrice and Claude are happy with the decision. Picture: Ian Georgeson.
Sarah Winkler and her children Beatrice and Claude are happy with the decision. Picture: Ian Georgeson.
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A CHILDREN’S treehouse which faced being torn down in a row over planning permission has been saved from the axe.

Karl and Sarah Winkler, who spent two months building the hideaway in the garden of their Viewforth home, have won an appeal against the city council’s order to dismantle it.

The council had said the treehouse had a “negative visual impact” and created “privacy issues” for surrounding properties. But the Scottish Government’s directorate of planning and environment ruled it was not “visually offensive” and neighbouring properties were not “seriously overlooked”.

The structure, which stands on eight-foot high stilts and cost £1000 in materials alone, was built for the Winklers’ three children – Beatrice, 11, Boris, nine, and Claude, five – who all go to Sciennes Primary.

The council issued an enforcement notice last year after being tipped off that the treehouse did not have planning permission.

Mr Winkler, 50, said none of the neighbours – whom he described as “supportive” of the treehouse – had made any complaints. But council officials said the structure was too close to the edge of the garden for its height, invading nearby residents’ privacy.

Mr Winkler admitted the treehouse was in breach of planning rules, but argued the council was being unreasonable and heavy handed

He lodged an appeal against the council’s enforcement order which has now resulted in victory for the family.

In his report, Donald Harris, of the Scottish Government’s directorate of planning and environment, said: “There is no doubt the structure is seen from many of the back gardens and rear windows of surrounding properties.

“However, it is not unsightly, being well designed and built in good materials. Although unusual, it is not in my view visually offensive and does not detract from the character and amenity of this residential area.”

Mr Harris said he accepted the structure was “essentially a playhouse for children” and while it was possible to view other residential properties from the treehouse, none of the gardens was “seriously overlooked”.

Mrs Winkler, 42, said: “Hopefully this means we can keep the treehouse.

“We are happy with what was said in the report. The kids are very happy about it as well.

“We’ve been going through this process for about a year.”

In 2012, Harry Potter author JK Rowling won a battle to build two Hogwarts-style tree houses in the garden of her Cramond home, despite protests from residents who said they would blight the appearance of the surrounding conservation area.

The writer had applied to have the massive structures, estimated to cost £250,000, erected as part of a programme of renovations.