A couple have lost their four-year battle against their local council over their right to continue living in a luxury three-bed house designed to look like an ordinary farmyard barn from the outside.
Developer Alan Beesley and his wife Sarah have been living in their luxury barn for nine years. It was built on greenbelt land at North Brook Meadow, near Potters Bar, Hertfordshire. Beesley obtained planning permission from Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council in 2001 to build a standard farmyard barn.
The structure looks like a normal barn from the outside; it does not have windows, has a slanted roof and is surrounded by farm machinery. However, inside there is a house with three bedrooms, two of which are en-suite, a gym, living room, study, and a garage.
The Beesleys and their daughter moved into the property in 2002. They fooled the council for four years until 2006 when they applied for a certificate of lawfulness under a section of the Town and Country Planning Act. Under the section in the Act, a local authority only has four years to take enforcement action against a building that has been built without the correct planning permission.
The Beesleys thought they would be allowed to continue living in their property after the enforcement period had passed.
However, Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council refused to grant the certificate of lawfulness. In 2008 an inspector appointed by the Secretary of State for communities and local government granted the Beesleys' appeal and the certificate.
The case then went through the court system until it eventually ended up in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court set aside the certificate of lawfulness stating that there had not been a change of use in the property and therefore the section in the Act did not apply.
In addition, the court held that because of Beesley's "dishonest" conduct he would not have been able to rely on the section anyway. He was held to have deliberately deceived the council and therefore he and his family will have to move out the £500,000 luxury barn.
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