Man given four months to remove log cabin family home from Bletsoe

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(image: Google Maps)

A Bletsoe man has been given three months to move out of his log cabin home and another month to remove it from the site after losing an enforcement appeal.

But a Bedford Borough bid to make Stuart Mayes pay its costs during the action were rejected by a planning inspector who decided even though he had been “unreasonable” the council did not face extra costs.

Mr Mayes had argued at an online inquiry held on December 8 that he had occupied the plot at Riverside, Long Haydons, in Rushden Road, for long enough for it to be an established use.

Mr Mayes said that the site had had a leisure and residential use for more than 10 years and therefore did not need planning permission.

He also told the inquiry that he and his partner Laura Shirley had lived at the property, a mobile home known as the Log Cabin, for more than four years. Before then, the land had been occupied for longer than 10 years, he said.

Planning inspector Kathryn Saward heard that permission for a garden shed and a cesspool in 2000 and 2002 did not count as permission for residential use.

And the inspector ruled that payment of council tax backdated to 2014 did not prove residential use, which would need to go back to at least June 19, 2008.

The inspector said that Mr Mayes had given “generalised and vague” evidence, had been unable to produce title deeds.

“I conclude that the appellant has failed to discharge the burden of proof to demonstrate that on the balance of probabilities a mixed use for residential and leisure purposes had continued without material interruption for a 10-year period prior to the issue of the enforcement notice,” said the decision notice issued on December 31.

Mr Mayes had also wanted to have longer to vacate the home to minimise disruption to his young family, if things were not decided in his favour.

But the inspector’s report noted that it had emerged at the inquiry that they were already living at a furnished property belonging to Mr Mayes’ father in the area.

“The appellant and his family have an option available to them to safeguard against homelessness. In light of this development the council withdrew its offer of a time extension,” said the inspector.

In rejecting the council’s bid to make Mr Mayes pay its costs, the inspector sympathised with Mr Mayes, who had “issues with his planning consultant”.

But he ruled that the “buck does stop” with him.

“He was given every opportunity to submit evidence and comply with deadlines but he failed to do so,” the inspector said.

“The appellant’s failure to submit a statement of case and co-operate with the council in the preparation of a statement of common ground amounted to unreasonable behaviour,” the inspector said.

But the inspector ruled that the issues required an inquiry anyway and ruled that the unreasonable behaviour had not given rise to “unnecessary or wasted costs”.

by David Tooley
Local Democracy Reporter

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