Page last updated at 12:39 GMT, Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Injured marine's home plan denied

A soldier who lost his legs when he stepped on a landmine has been denied permission to build an adapted bungalow at his grandparents' home.

Royal Marine Joe Townsend, 20, lost one leg completely and one to the knee while he was serving in Afghanistan.

His application to build on a paddock in Hankham Hall Road, Pevensey, was turned down by Wealden District Council because it was considered "intrusive".

The council said it was "happy to discuss a revised proposal".

The council's planning committee voted by a slim majority to reject the plan incorporating a bathroom and carers room on the grounds that it breached planning policies.

Mr Townsend's grandfather David Carter, 72, had submitted the application to finance and build the single storey building.

He was a fit, healthy lad blown to pieces
David Carter, grandfather

He questioned why no exception could be made for his grandson's sacrifices and desire to lead a more independent life.

Mr Carter said: "I thought they might show a bit of compassion. These young lads are getting blown to pieces in Afghanistan. If they'd gone one step further in granting this, it may well have opened up opportunities for others."

He said his grandson was "absolutely devastated" by the decision.

"The tragedy doesn't go away," Mr Carter added. "He was a fit, healthy lad blown to pieces."

Mr Townsend has had several operations, with another planned next month, plus rehabilitation at Headley Court in Surrey.

Mr Carter said: "We didn't have any objections from neighbours or the parish council. People offered to write letters of support."

Rural constraints

The council's suggestion to build an annexe for Mr Townsend were short-sighted given his own age and would not give proper independence, he added.

Kelvin Williams, head of planning and building control at the council said: "The erection of a new bungalow outside of the development boundary would be intrusive and be in direct conflict with existing policies to restrain building in rural areas."

He added: "Alternatively there is the possibility to convert an existing storage building at the rear of the existing dwelling to provide the required independent accommodation.

"The council has already indicated to the agent and family members we are happy to discuss such a revised proposal."

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