Scrooge council chiefs have ordered a devoted father to tear down a treehouse he lovingly built as a Christmas present for his kids – because it breached planning laws.
Shane MacDonald, 27, took 10 months constructing the 10ft-high den before being told he should have applied for planning permission first.
Planners at South Derbyshire District Council have now given Shane 28 days to dismantle the timber tree house or face legal proceedings.
Shane, a joiner, spent every weekend working on the structure in the back garden of his home in Midway, near Swadlincote, Derbys.
He started the project after seeing a similar tree house on a family holiday and planned to present it to his two daughters, Saphire, six, and four-year-old Scarlett on Christmas Day.
But weeks before the big day planners ordered him to remove it or face prosecution.
He fumed: “My children did nothing but cry when we told them and they are heartbroken.
“We have been told we have to take it down or the council will take action and we will have to pay the costs for it.
“I have spoken to many residents, council workers and even councillors, and all agree the council is bang out of order.
“All anyone wants is a safe place for their kids to play.
“The tree house would have been great for kids’ birthday parties and things like that.
“I suppose I will have to take it down but I want to get something else sorted for the girls instead, like a Wendy house.
“We asked all neighbours up and down our road before we started so we could sort out any differences, but all was okay and many couldn’t wait to see it start going up.”
Shane’s wife Lisa, 27, added: “The kids are completely distraught, they were really looking forward to playing in their little tree house.
“They are gutted, it could ruin Christmas for us. It was going to be their big present.”
Planners swooped on the property after receiving a complaint from a neighbour and told Shane the tree house breached planning laws because it was more than 10ft in height in some places.
A council spokesman said: “We came to the conclusion that a development such as this, under national law, needed planning permission, which was neither applied for nor granted.
“We also have a duty of care to ensure our tenants are safe and secure at all times.
“After inspecting the structure, it was clear it could put anyone who uses it at risk of harm.
“We are continuing to talk to to come to a solution moving forward.
“To use Mr MacDonald’s words, we want to help ensure that there is a safe place for the kids to play.”