I use my garden shed as a CRECHE – it's genius but I've had to spend £7k fighting jobsworths to keep it

A MUM has spent £7,000 fighting council planning chiefs to keep using her garden shed as a creche.

Holly Fitzsimmons, 27, claimed officials U-turned after originally saying she would not need extra planning permission for a change of use at the timber outhouse.


She has now spent thousands signing up a planning consultant to mount her fightback in Beckfields, North Yorks.

Mum-of-one Holly told TeessideLive: "It's ridiculous really.

"I know the council are happy for me to child-mind – and they’re saying the building itself is permitted. But I thought I wouldn’t need planning permission.”

Council officials decided the shed was built for the sole purpose of being a child-minding facility, so needed permission, but Ms Fitzsimmons insisted it was also regularly used for family gatherings.

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A change of use application was rejected in 2020 and it has since led to an enforcement notice being served.

The shed, fitted with a kitchenette and play facilities, was built in 2018 for £20,000.

Little Oaks owner Holly added: “I’m only trying to child-mind and look after my community.

“But they’re trying to bring me down to be honest. My point is – what’s the difference between a shed at the back and a conservatory in a house?

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 "I don’t even open 12 weeks of the year so I’m not even at the premises with the children then.

"Second of all, the home is used for napping, eating and down time and, with children, that can take a long time.

“The actual amount of playing time in that building is not very long at all.”

Holly has run Little Oaks from her mum's home for more than three years. The shed is used for playtime while the family home nearby was used for naps and other activities.

Her retrospective change of use application had two complaints from neighbours, citing traffic and noise concerns.

A Stockton Council spokesperson said: “A retrospective planning application for the change of use of a rear timber outbuilding for a child minding business was refused in 2020.

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“The applicant did not appeal that decision. The council recently served an enforcement notice requiring the use of the outbuilding for a child-minding business to be ceased.

“This notice has been appealed and the appeal will now be determined by the Planning Inspectorate.”

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