A SECRET council report shows a former councillor put up an illegal workshop in his backyard while sitting on the committee tasked with controlling building in Swindon.

Former Conservative Councillor Douglas Stewart has been accused of erecting an "unauthorised development" at his Peatmoor home in the report obtained by the Adver.

The documents show the council took more than a year to investigate a complaint from Coun Stewart's Newmeadow Copse neighbour that the workshop infringed his privacy and was being built illegally.

Coun Stewart stepped down from the council ahead of the May 4 election this year.

Ahead of that, he had sat on the council's planning committee the group which has the job of approving or knocking back all building plans in the town even while a complaint was made about the workshop being built in May 2005.

Now, more than a year since the complaint was made and Coun Stewart has stepped down from the council, the planning committee is to hear the case in secret.

Rather than hear the case in public at the council's planning committee meeting next Tuesday, the council has listed the affair to be heard after the public and press are excluded.

Swindon planning officers say in the report obtained by the Adver that the council should take no enforcement action over the building.

The report says the council would be likely to approve the building work if it had been submitted along the correct channels, and any move towards enforcement would be overturned at appeal.

Planning committee chairman Andrew Bennett said he expected the case to be heard in private.

He said he could not comment until the committee had heard all the facts.

Asked if he had any concerns that a former planning committee councillor had been investigated for breaking the council's own rules, Coun Bennett said he could not comment until after the meeting.

"I understand what you are saying but until I know what has happened through enforcement, I could not comment," Coun Bennett said.

Former councillor Mr Stewart said the planning officers had it wrong.

He said the wooden shed came within rights to develop 70 cubic metres without planning permission.

He said he had bought his house 14 years ago and it already had the conservatory attached.

He said the shelter attached to the conservatory did not have walls so did not count within the 70 cubic metre allowable development area.