VILLAGERS forced to deal with building work they say is destroying their privacy have called for planning laws to change.

Residents on Hurst Lane in Freeland, near Witney, are unhappy with an extension to a house in Nash Lane, which borders their back gardens.

The project was allowed to go ahead without planning permission under permitted development rights - despite similar plans attracting criticism two years ago.

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Retired couple Stewart and Wendy Rose are especially affected and say the inside of their conservatory, study and bedroom can be seen from the extension.

The pair returned from holiday near the end of June to find work had begun and it has since made life difficult.

Oxford Mail:

Mr Rose, 79, said: "There's no place we can get complete privacy.

"My wife even feels uncomfortable hanging out her washing. It's an appalling situation."

The owner of the Nash Lane property, a two-bedroom bungalow, applied to build a two-storey house on the land in 2017.

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Residents raised fears over the impact on their privacy and the plans were withdrawn.

But permitted development laws say certain proposals can go ahead without planning permission, which has allowed the current work.

This time it is just a single storey extension, but Sue Fairchild, who lives next door to Mr and Mrs Rose, said part of the building is set to loom over her 13-year-old son Marc's bedroom window.

She said: "It's not in keeping with the rest of the area. It's going to set a precedent if he gets away with it."

Residents also say the work is too close to a protected oak tree, while Peter Newell, chairman of Freeland Parish Council, claimed the law gives developers 'too much leeway'.

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Merilyn Davies, district councillor for Freeland and Hanborough, called for permitted development laws to be revisited 'as a matter of urgency'.

She said: "With permitted development, residents are rendered powerless, their homes encroached upon, and with no recourse to action.

"Planning law needs to place people at the heart of what it does yet, currently, I see on a daily basis the stress and emotional toll the planning system has on residents who feel excluded and helpless."

Jeff Haine, West Oxfordshire District Council cabinet member for strategic planning, said he understood residents' frustration but admitted it was out of the council's control.

He said: "Parliament has set out national legislation to govern what is and not permitted and this can be as unsatisfactory for planners as for neighbours."

The property's owner was contacted for comment.