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PLEASE NOTE: Information in this article is correct at the time of publication, please contact DFA Law for current advice on older articles.
A recent case serves as a reminder of how strongly local councils are likely to react if they are faced with a blatant attempt to circumvent planning laws. It involved a Banstead man who built a home without planning permission, completing it in 2002. During its construction, he hid the building by surrounding it with bales of straw. In 2006 he removed these, believing that the rule which allows a certificate of lawful use to be demanded after four years of use for residential purposes would apply.
In 2007, however, instead of granting a certificate of lawful use, Reigate and Banstead Council issued an enforcement notice, requiring the man to demolish the building. The basis of the Council’s argument was that the erection and removal of the straw bales was part of the building process and so the four-year time limit only started to run in 2006.
A planning inspector upheld the Council’s ruling, so the owner then went to court, which upheld the original decision.
Faced with the prospect of having to demolish his home, an appeal to the Court of Appeal seems likely. In a similar case, the Court recently ruled in favour of a man who built a house when planning permission had been granted for a barn, where the house was erected under cover of an external structure that looked like a barn.
Councils take a dim view of those who show blatant disregard for planning regulations and will fight such cases more often than not. For advice on all planning law matters, contact us.