Mendip District Council
I bought and moved onto the land 25 September 1995. I have paid Council Tax since being assessed the first week I moved in. Septic tank installed for effluent, as MDC would not accept compost loo. Each planning application costs GBP 220.
Application 1 – 22 November 1995: Use of former equestrian center for agriculture use. Relocation of stables, erection of agricultural buildings, windmill and polytunnel.
Permission granted – 9 September 1996. Conditions referred to concern the drainage system, satisfactory final disposal of effluent and approval for the water treatment plant.
Application 2 – 21 November 1996 – for Certificate of Lawfulness for siting one residential caravan: Refused – Applicant’s claim of continuous use refuted in previous owners letter: ‘Caravan was sited in 1986 and has been used as a secure tack room and feed store ever since’. This decision was made despite the fact that I produced 3 sworn afidavits from the original owner, a neighbour and people who stabled their horses, the caravan has been bought from me several years before and was wallpapered, curtains, carpet and fully furnished as a residence.
Application 3 – 6 April 1999 – Siting of mobile home: 19 October 1999 planning panel hearing – permission refused.
Enforcement Notice – 1 March 2001: requires removal of the mobile home.
Application 4 – 3 June 1999 – Erection of a low impact dwelling: Permission was refused on 20 August 1999. I was living in a geostatic dome on the lawn.
Application 5 – 1 October 1999: Siting of a mobile home: permission is granted on 11 November 1999. Conditions state that the permission shall expire on 30 October 2001 and the use must be discontinued and the land/premises reinstated on or before that date. The permission also limits who may occupy the accommodation and requires complete sewage disposal and surface water drainage works.
October 2000: I discover that temporary permission can apply to a caravan or temporary wooden structure, which can be dismantled and removed. So I built a temporary wooden structure and filled the walls with strawbales and cordwood. The mistake I made was in seeking advice from Mendips Building regs dept who stated the building must be on a concrete base. Although the building was temporary, the planning dept deemed it to be a permanent structure because it was on a concrete base and as such fixed to the ground. The house was made of mainly recycled materials and cost around GBP 10,000.
Enforcement Notice – 1 March 2001: requiring demolition of the residential dwelling (including removal of concrete base) and the removal of the resultant material from the land.
Appeal – 16 October 2001: The appeal was dismissed and the enforcement notice was upheld with a variation – an extra 12 months – however the Inspector insisted the next application was to be given a full hearing before reaching a decision.
Application 6 – 14 February 2003: Siting of a temporary dwelling: The application was decided by ‘delegated powers’ and was refused by the Planning Officer. This decision was sanctioned by Ken Maddock, the District Councillor.
August 2003? Friday – took the house down and dug all the concrete out and removed it. Saturday, Sunday and Monday – put it back up, in a different place and with a foundation on car tyres. No doubt it is dismantlable and temporary and not fixed to the ground in any way. This exercise cost around GBP 5,500.
In November 2003, I went to the Houses of Parliament to be presented with the ‘Green Apple’ award for Individual Environment Best Practice.
July 2004: Mendip took me to Magistrates Court and made me a criminal for living in the house (even though it was not the same house) and not the subject of the Enforcement action. No fine but awarded to pay costs of GBP 400.
October 2004: Appeal in Mendip Council offices, booked for two days, we all arrived, Inspector from the Secretary of State, my barrister, solicitor, planning consultant, professional witnesses etc. Unfortunately Mendip’s Plsanning officer had gone on holiday, and their Solicitor was sick. Adjourned.
November 2004: Appeal try again – two days, the Inspector (a very patient man), Mendips Solicitor and Planning Officer, my team (funded by the Legal Aid board): Barrister, Solicitor, Planning Consultant, Prof Tom Woolley of Queens University, Belfast Natural Buildings, Simon Fairlie of Chapter 7 handled the previous appeal for me, Nik Hiscock of Adult Learning and Leisure, and several others.
We had good public participation, about 40 people each day. Media coverage included BBC and ITV and several newspapers. The Inspector visited the farm, with myself, Mendip’s Planning Officer and the Planning Consultant.
13 January 2005: Success – the Inspectorate granted me a permanent permission to live in my temporary house.
After the fire, I has to conform and apply again for Planning Permission, it was interesting when the planning officer came to inspect the site, he asked “where was it exactly” the reply came “thats the whole point there is no evidence there was a house there, the land has regenerated”
The permission was granted – so I now have permaneant permission for temporary house for my lifetime, when i die the house comes down.
February 2007 After the fire I had to apply for permission to build the new house. So I did, the same size, same materials, same position. Interesting when the Planning Officer came to inspect the site he said “Now where was it” the reply came “thats the whole point, the land will regenerate and you’ll never known where its been” Planning permission was granted with the same conditions.
JUNE 2007 Rebuilding of house
NOVEMBER 2009 Applied for & granted planning permission for DIY Livery stables