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Last Updated: Monday, 2 February, 2004, 12:33 GMT
Magician wins battle to rebuild home
Paul Daniels
Paul Daniels has only been able to use the upstairs of his house
One of Britain's best known magicians, Paul Daniels, has won a long-running battle with his local council to rebuild his flood-damaged home.

Mr Daniel's house in Wargrave, Berkshire, was wrecked when the River Thames burst its banks in January 2003, and he has been fighting ever since to build improvements.

Wokingham District Council had originally turned down his plans to rebuild the front of the house on stilts, claiming they were out of keeping with the local green belt area.

But the proposals were approved after neighbours wrote to condemn the "outrageous" treatment the 64-year-old celebrity and his wife Debbie McGee had received.

The couple have only been able to use a few upstairs rooms in the property, which was valued at up to 2.5m before the floods.

'Utterly disgraceful'

Last week, a second planning application looked set to be refused by councillors until Mr Daniel's neighbours stepped in.

The planning officers' recommendations to refuse the plans would have left the property a fraction of its original value.

One of the letters sent to the council criticised planning officers for "sheer awkwardness" and claimed the rebuilding would improve the look of the area.

It said: "It is utterly disgraceful. If this is the way you intend to treat those of us who suffer from the river's flooding, we shall have to consider the way we vote very seriously in future.

"You cannot imagine how you would feel if you were left in this sorry position."

Under the new plans, the Mr Daniels will knock down and rebuild a large part of the front of the 1960s building on stilts.

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