A father from Looe who built a treehouse costing more than £100,000 without planning permission has revealed that he has cancer and didn’t want to wait for planners.

John Kitson, 42, feared he might not have enough time left if he asked officials to sign off his ‘dream’ project.

Dad-of-three John, now faces tearing down the luxurious one bed ‘Cornish Treehouse’ property in a secluded woodland.

The treehouse is a modern, elevated wooden structure with WiFi can be rented from £195 a night.

John admits he didn’t seek permission but said that his diagnosis left him fearing it would take too long to get the go ahead. Saying when the build started he wasn’t sure if he would be around to “see the end” of it.

John said he was “a silly bugger” but having an official plan would have also “limited” his ability to make artistic decisions as work progressed.

He says he regrets making life ‘difficult’ for the local planning office and is now seeking retrospective planning permission. However, if the application fails though he will have to tear down the entire project.

He said: “Thankfully my cancer is not as bad as I thought, I thought I had a secondary tumour somewhere on my pancreas but thankfully I’m in the clear.

“When I first got checked up I never thought it would be anything serious, but within days I was in London and then Liverpool for treatment.

“I admit it’s not relevant for planning, but from a personal point of view it focuses your mind a bit if the worst did happen.

“I just didn’t want to wait.

“I think that was part of the urgency for wanting to get on with it - it’s a difficult area to talk about.

“It puts things into context a little. There are more things to life and I didn’t know if I’d be around to see the end frankly when we started.

“It’s a very weak justification and that doesn’t justify what I’ve done but it was the reason for wanting to get on with it.

‘’I just fell in love with it and other people fell in love with it.

“I don’t blame the planners for doing their job and I’m delighted people are being supportive. If the worst happens, it happens and I’m a silly bugger.

“If they make me tear it down I’ll have to comply but it will break my heart.”

John, a Morval parish councillor, built the treehouse - that has mains electricity and running water - during the pandemic.

It is now rented out as holiday accommodation in Morval, near Looe, Cornwall, advertised as a “cosy couples’ retreat”.

John, took over the family estate after the passing of his grandparents in 2009. He says that the plan was to pass on the costs of maintaining his estate’s ‘money pit’ 200-300 year old buildings on the site to vacationers - rather than existing tenants.

Morval estate hosts over 20 families, ranging from ‘farmers to pensioners’ including some who have lived on the site for over 50 years.

John said: “We wanted to raise an income to try and raise money without asking our tenants on the estate to pay for site maintenance, especially with the cost of living and various tree diseases we’ve had on site.

“I just don’t want to pass those costs on to tenants. We looked at a wind turbine, but that would have annoyed all the locals and would have been far more disruptive compared to this treehouse.’’

Despite not seeking planning permission, he claims that he did consult locals on the build and was met by no real opposition.

He explained: “I spoke to my tenants before I started building, and explained what I planned to make. They didn’t have any issues with it

“People here see it and see the effort, a lot of locals know people who worked on the treehouse.

“I tried to use local businesses, like a former tree surgeon I know who made the bed and sink for the treehouse for example.

“I genuinely believe in the sustainability agenda, and so we designed the treehouse to incorporate a lot of local wood that we had to fell due to a rather unpleasant tree disease.

“It’s designed to give minimum possible impact to the local area and the environment, we used no concrete for example.

“If you are building a house, you know exactly what you’re going to do before you do it. This was a bit like painting a picture.

“You know what you want in the end, but you don’t quite know how you’re going to get there. I wanted to chop, change, adapt and rebuild to make it perfect.”

A retrospective planning permission application has now been published for the property and is visible on Cornwall Council’s planning portal with application number PA22/06132.

Locals have until December 2022 to comment on the build.

John added: “I’m just for a quiet life, I don’t want to put all these people in difficult positions.

‘’It’s a difficult job being a planning officer and I don’t want to make their lives more difficult.

“I just hope Cornwall councillors understand that being a landlord is becoming quite difficult, a lot of people have sold up to people who then kick out locals and make AirBnBs.

“It’s certainly a more profitable and low-effort option, but tourists should always be able to come here to Cornwall.

“The more difficult it is for people to make alternative lodging options for tourists, the more you see locals being kicked out and AirBnBs being put up instead.”

John is now doing well but still has to have an MRI scan every six months to check the cancer hasn’t metastasised.

John promoted his treetop getaway as a glamping destination online but when the council spotted the ad they claimed it was an unlawful safety hazard.

One neighbour, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “I don’t know of anyone locally complaining about this.

“You can’t see it unless you’re in the woods. It isn’t bothering anyone.

‘’If they make me tear it down I’ll have to comply but it will break my heart.”

But local tourism bosses believe the structure is unsafe and should not be operating.

A spokesman for the South East Cornwall Tourism Association, said: “My personal concern is the safety aspect, we can’t see any fire exits on this building yet it has a log burner. How safe is that?

“It can be as cutesy as you like. But it should still have to meet building regulations.”

A spokeswoman for Cornwall Council added: “The applicant has submitted a retrospective planning application to apply for permission so that it can be considered in the usual manner.

“The application is due to be determined by December 1st.”