A council has apologised for mistakenly posting a planning enforcement letter on an approved site.

The mistake caused the site owner a great amount of distress and led his nine-year-old son to question whether his father had committed a crime.

Bilal Sheikh, an Epping resident, had planning approved for a stable block in land by Hoe Lane, in Lambourne End on July 25.

The 43-year-old's first application to build the stable had been rejected but his amended plans for the 18 x 5.4 metre stable were approved by Epping Forest District planning officers.

He began work on the stables, adhering to the conditions of the planning permission.

On August 30 Mr Sheikh was alarmed to discover a council planning enforcement notice at the site.

The notice claimed there was no planning permission for any works on the site and threatened prosecution if work continued.

Mr Sheikh said: “I was with my family, with my wife, and my nine-year-old son. My son read the letter and he asked me if I was doing something illegal.

“It was very distressing to think that my neighbours would think I was building illegally.”

The following Monday Mr Sheikh contacted the council who admitted there had been an administrative mistake.

Spokesperson for Epping Forest District Council Tom Carne said: “We made a mistake and I would like to take this opportunity to apologise again.

“Following Mr Sheikh’s complaint we carried out a thorough investigation and held up our hands to the error. We wrote to him explaining the error and apologising for the inconvenience. We acted from the best of intentions but we are human at the end of the day and mistakes do happen.

“Mr Sheikh remains unhappy and although we feel we have done all we can to redress the matter, we have provided him with contact details for the local government Ombudsman if he wishes to take it further.”