Family of 13 fear homelessness as council orders them out of 8-bedroom rental

A family of 13 are living in fear of homelessness after being threatened with eviction by their local council.

For the past two years Clifford Westfall and Clair Patterson have been living in an eight-bedroomed house in Bradford, Yorkshire, with their nine children. Clair’s brother and Clifford's brother, both of whom need extra support, also live with the couple.

But Bradford Council has now told them they must leave the property by January 26.

An extension to the property, built by the landlord, breaches planning regulations. The works exceeded the agreed dimensions and the house is now deemed too tall.

Three separate retrospective planning applications and an appeal to the government's planning inspector have all failed, leading to the council obtaining a compulsory purchase order.

After Clifford and Clair were told to leave, they said they asked for help from the council to find somewhere else to live after struggling to find anywhere suitable.

"There is nothing on the market for a family of our size," Clifford told YorkshireLive. "We used to live in a three-bedroom house a few years ago. We were so happy, even though it was so small, but it just wasn't big enough.

The couple pay £1,000 a month for the privately-rented property in Green Head Road and are desperate to remain in the area.

Their seven youngest children all go to school in nearby Keighley and the family business, a toy shop in the town centre, is just a mile away.

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Clair said: "If we lived elsewhere, it would be physically impossible for me to get seven kids to four different schools and then get to work. It just wouldn't happen."

Clifford and Clair claim they have been told their family could be moved into a hostel.

"When they said that, I thought: 'Is that for real?'" said Clifford. "What's one foot or two feet compared to making a family homeless?

"If we had to [leave Keighley] we'd do it. But a hostel? It just can't happen. It wouldn't work."

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The couple have one child together, but have custody for their eight children from previous relationships. The youngest is just two years old, while the oldest is 19.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Bradford Council said: "The breach that Mr Westfall appears to be referring to relates to planning permission rather than building regulations. This was obtained by the owner of the property in 2018 to extend the house however, the actual works carried out went beyond that approved resulting in an unauthorised increase in the overall height of the property.

"Three separate retrospective planning applications for an increase in the roof height have been submitted since the works were undertaken. These applications were all refused and an appeal to the government's planning inspector by the owner challenging the decision was dismissed on May 28, 2020.

"In view of this and as the owner failed to rectify the breach, an enforcement notice was issued requiring them to carry out the work in accordance with the approved planning permission or demolish the unauthorised works. No appeal was submitted against the enforcement notice and therefore it should have been complied with by August 18, 2021.

"With regard to rehousing Mr Westfall and his family", the statement continues, "Mr Westfall and his family have been assessed by the Local Authority's Housing Options Service in accordance with the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017.

"The Housing Options Officer is currently exploring suitable rehousing options in the private and social housing sectors. This also includes providing two accommodation units adjacent or in close proximity to each other.

"Should Mr Westfall become homeless before the eviction deadline, the Local Authority will have a statutory duty to offer temporary accommodation with one of our commissioned providers. The temporary accommodation offer, if needed, will be in the same location. The Local Authority will continue to support Mr Westfall and his family during this rehousing process.

"The council is currently in the process of preparing legal documentation to extend the current deadline of January 26, 2022 to allow additional time to source suitable housing options for Mr Westfall and his family. He will be in receipt of this documentation within the next seven days."

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