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Luxury house disguised as barn breached planning law

20 July 2011

A recent landmark ruling by the Supreme Court over planning breaches acts as a serious warning to landowners and developers. The developer in the case had disguised a luxury home as a barn in a greenbelt area in Hertfordshire.

Alan Beesley was granted permission in 2001 to build a barn for agricultural use but fitted out the interior with en suite bedrooms, living rooms and a gym. From the outside the property looks like any other barn with a curved roof, no windows and is surrounded by farmyard machinery.

Mr Beesley moved into the property in 2002 and applied for a certificate of lawfulness four years later, believing the time limit for enforcement action had expired.

Following the initial legal tussle in the lower courts, the appeal court ruled that immunity had been established. The council appealed to the Supreme Court where seven judges unanimously ruled in their favour. Admonishing Mr Beesley for his “positive deception” the court said his dishonest conduct meant he could not rely on the Town and  Country Planning Act.  

The council is now considering what enforcement action to take after Lord Brown said that they “may seek to enforce not merely against the continued use of this building as a dwelling but additionally against its construction.”

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Nigel Whittaker BA (Hons)
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