I’m being forced to demolish my dream cabin after neighbours complained over my lights – I can’t afford the huge bills

Pictured is Hazel Cullen and daughter Megan Cullen at Matt's Farm in Builth Wells, mid Wales. Hazel moved to Builth in 2019 with the plan to convert the empty, tired building in her garden into a thriving retreat. But in 2020, following a neighbour's complaint, a council inspector from Powys County Council visited the cabin. While at the time she claims she was assured there little to worry about, she was told in the summer of 2020 that her retreat should be considered a second home and she would have to pay an extortionate amount of tax on the building - next year rising to ¿9,000 annually. It's more than triple the cost of her actual house. Pictures taken at Matt's Farm, Woodpecker Lodge, Hundred House, Builth Wells, Powys

A WOMAN claims she is being forced to tear down her “dream” cabin after neighbours complained about her lights.

Hazel Cullen, 60, renovated Woodpecker Lodge in her two acre garden in Builth Wells, Wales, in 2019.

Hazel Cullen fears she will have to demolish her cabin

The mum spent years transforming the shabby cabin with husband Richard and teenage daughter Megan so it could be used as a “retirement dream” retreat.

Hazel says she was even making a profit from renting it as a holiday home when a neighbour complained about the lights at the lodge.

A valuation officer then turned up in March 2020 and the family were given a council tax bill because the cabin counts as a second home.

Hazel said: “It isn’t a second home. If I wanted to go on holiday to my second home why would I want to do it in my back garden?

“We told them it wasn’t a second home, it’s a cabin, but they weren’t having any of it.

“The council tax on it is going up and up and next year it’s going to be ridiculous. I’ll be losing money on it.”

The ex-hairdresser has been locked in a three-year battle with Powys County Council and believes the cabin is simply an extension to her home.

It uses the same water and electricity and council tax wasn’t paid on it before she moved to Matt’s Farm with her family.

Due to changes to the law, local authorities now have the power to increase council tax premiums to 300 per cent.

This is stop second home-owners taking over Wales’ top visitor spots.

But Hazel fears she will be charged more than £9,000-a-year on the cabin if the highest premium is applied.

She said the amount is more than three times the amount her bills cost on her 11-room country home.

Hazel said: “We told the council it’s a bedroom extension and it’s linked to our water and electricity but they’ve decided to class it as a second home and have even give it its own address.

“The premiums are ridiculous. This year they’ve put the premium on it to 75 per cent which takes the price up to £2,163. Next year it’s going to be up to 300 per cent, which will be £9,000.

“It’s busy but it’s only open for half of the year and it doesn’t merit keeping it open while paying that amount of tax.

“They’ve said they won’t remove the council tax on it unless it becomes derelict so basically I now have to demolish it.

“This was my retirement dream but this whole thing has put the kibosh on it.”

Powys County Council said the valuation office decides if a property is classified as a commercial property or a domestic property and whether the owner needs to pay council tax.

They added: “For a self-catering unit to be classified as a commercial property, from April 1, 2023, the property must: in the previous 12 months, prior to the assessment, been available for letting commercially as self-catering accommodation for 252 days or more; and during the previous 12-month period been commercially let for at least 182 days.

“Owners who want to challenge the classification of their property would need to contact the VOA.

“From April 1, 2023, local authorities are able to charge a council tax premium on periodically occupied properties of up to 300%. Currently Powys County Council charges a 75% premium.”

Hazel restored the cabin to use as a retirement retreat

She has been renting it out as a holiday let

The cabin is attached to water and electricity from her own house