Flaunt the planners at your peril
To farmer Robert Fidler he must be hearing that old fairy tale about a wolf huffing and puffing to blow his house down.
Without any planning consent at all, Mr Fidler thought it a cracking idea to build a house and hide it behind bales of straw, until he thought it was safe to raise his head above the planning parapet. He built Honeycrock Farmhouse and moved in to it in 2001 only removing the straw in 2006, when he thought he was immune from planning enforcement under the provisions of the 1990 Town and Country Planning Act.
However, the local council issued enforcement notices prompting unsuccessful appeals by Mr Fidler and a High Court case – he now has one year to pull down the house having lost his bid for a certificate of lawfulness.
The council is dead right – the planners oft make the lives of folk a misery but this man stood to gain a large sum of cash out of his deliberate strategy, not only to ignore the law but to conceal his activities in order to surface when he thought it was safe, to crystallise his gain; he shouldn’t have a leg to stand on.
This may be an extreme case, but there is a message to those considering breaching planning regulations. We are often asked to raise finance for those wanting a mortgage for a property with an agricultural restriction or an agricultural tie, which underlines the specialist nature of this type of finance. Moreover, we get enquiries from people who have a property with an agricultural restriction who think the process to remove them is simple, which rather undermines the reason why they were implemented by planners to begin with.
The message is simple – pay a little for some sound advice now or pay handsomely later for taking your own advice.