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Author Topic: 2 acre plot of land having problems with planners  (Read 1008 times)

Busylizzie

  • Joined May 2020
2 acre plot of land having problems with planners
« on: May 04, 2020, 10:59:12 am »
Hi new to accidental smallholder and need some advice.  Bought two acres of land which already has a small stable block erected with planning from 1983.   We have three houses on one side of us and two on the other.   Naively we thought this would qualify as infill but having put a pre app in to the council they say we are building into the countryside.   About two months ago plans were approved for a new build about three houses away and we are now hoping that this will set a precedent for us.   However, our house sale fell through last year (30 minutes before due to sign) and to cut a long story short we decided to do airbnb for 5 weeks to try to recoup some of the money spent on trying to pacify the new buyer.   We had a 4 berth caravan and moved on to the land under the 28 day rule.  There are no services on the land but we managed with solar panels and good batteries.   To make life a bit easier we erected an awning and put a table and chairs in their with a small settee.   This was to give us more room as the two springer spaniels were under the impression that the caravan was their new kennel.  In 2018 We built a wooden shed to keep all our beekeeping gear in and we had an enforcement notice saying we were in contravention of the planning law.   Having had a discussion with the enforcement team they were happy to close the file as the building was not fixed, had no services into it and was being used for the purpose of storage.  We stated we had two large tunnels on the land for veg growing and gave the sizes and she was happy that these did not require planning.    Soooooo, in January of this year, bearing in mind we left the caravan at the end of august having been there for 28 days day and moved back to our home, we received a letter from the enforcement department stating that we required planning for the shed, required planning for the tunnels, we had turned the land into residential by having a small domestic garden.   i would at this stage say the vegetable patch was about 10' x 8, really just to give the grandchildren a taste for growing vegetables.  We were told that we were not allowed to have an awning and "modes of comfort" and that as the caravan was not being stored on the land that this required permission.   There are many discrepancies within the letter received, which we have had to challenge as we do not think protocol has been followed.  ie, she stated she visited the land on the 17th September during a telephone conversation but could not get in because the gate was locked.   (We were back at our home at this stage).  Now she is stating she visited with a colleague and that on this visit she noticed we had a lot of comfort within the awning which is not allowed.  Speaking with planning we understood that a letter should be sent informing us of an impending visit but no date given and if entry could not be gained then attempts should be made to contact us and if all else fails then the right to enter without a warrant becomes into being.  None of this happened and why did four months elapse from the time of her alleged visit to a letter in January 2020.  We had a very detailed conversation when I received the letter and none of these issues came up.   We were very honest when we filled in the PCN and stated that we would at some stage in the future like to think we could have planning for a house but not at the moment.   
My question is do we require all these permissions having been told that the tunnels were illegal as was the shed, why are there hundreds of caravans being stored on agricultural land without permission.   What size veg patch on agricultural land constitutes changes of use into a domestic garden.  We keep bees and I think she may have one in her bonnet.  sorry for the pun but we adhered to the 28 day rule and now find that even doing this we are required to have planning permission even though she was the one who stated to live on the land for that period of time was within the rules.  HELP

arobwk

  • Joined Nov 2015
  • Kernow. Some say it's in England !
Re: 2 acre plot of land having problems with planners
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2020, 01:01:49 pm »
Hi and welcome @Busylizzie .  Phew!    Lots of points and issues.  I'm gonna read through again and consider whether I can offer any useful comment.  No doubt others here will have some views.

doganjo

  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Clackmannanshire
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Re: 2 acre plot of land having problems with planners
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2020, 02:41:48 pm »
Oh boy do you have a jobsworth here!
Get paper evidence, photographic evidence and go to the head of the departmetn with it - in person is usual, not possible at the moment obviously,  so send it by recorded delivery.
Set out an exact date timescale of what happened when.
State exactly what you want to do with the land - in detail, including a house, what type, what size , where the faciliteis will come from etc - almost as if it were an application, but without the actual drawings.

Have you thought about putting an actual application in as opposed to just  chatting with them in advance?  They will then have to go through the proper channels, record letetrs etc if it is a formal application
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age

Busylizzie

  • Joined May 2020
Re: 2 acre plot of land having problems with planners
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2020, 11:53:40 am »
Hello doganjo
thank you so much for replying.   we have had two pre applications already and i think, as you say, the best way forward is to put in an outline application.   We have already carried out the mining survey, knotweed, tree survey and so forth so all that is needed is the actual application.    It has been suggested that if we put in an application for three + houses then the planners may be more amenable.   My argument here is that where we live 120 houses have already been built at the top of the hill and another 80 on the other side.   Planning has been granted for another 40 houses in another area of Perranporth and it makes me wonder what building another say three houses will make a difference to the housing stock.   The problem as well, like everything else, is that the houses already built are well outside the lower income families in this county and we have an influx of people not from the area as well as social housing being offered.   Please do not think I am against people moving around the country and I agree that social housing is a must but we have at the current movement nearly 890 people in the county who are on the list for social housing who do not seem to have the opportunity to be given the percentage of houses which the builders said would be for local people.   However, I do not want to get on my soap box about this but it seems unfair that we cannot have a piece of land where we want to live off grid, produce our own electricity, work from home, which we both currently do, live sustainably and live off the land and yet we are hit with what we both deem to be petty reasons for not allowing us to live like this.   I can only imagine the response when we put our outline in as it seems that they are totally against us building on this land.   Our shed was actually built in september 2017 and wondered if we hung on until september 2021 that this would quality as permitted development.  We have photographic evidence of the land, our pre app stated quite clearly the way we want to develop the land and live there for all the reasons above but it would seem we have hit a stumbling block.  I have written to the enforcement officer, very politely, expressing our concerns about the way in which this issue has been dealt with.    Speaking with out local County Councillor he has asked us to request access to the 2018 file where the previous enforcement officer was perfectly happy with the shed and tunnels.  We have asked for the name of the colleague who the officer now states visited the site with her.   There was no mention of this officer during our conversation We have asked for the dates that the complaints were received, the list is endless but we need to ensure that what is happening here is not as a result of their reluctance to allow us to proceed to try and get planning or hope that we will go away because the hassle is too much.   We are still growing our vegetables up there and they are looking great and I away answers to my questions about domestic gardening.   I hate this confrontation which I think is about to transpire but I think somewhere along the line if the council do not adhere to the regulations set down then there comes a point where you have to make a stand and ask for the evidence which they state they have but until now has never ever been mentioned which I think should have been mentioned at our very first telephone conversation.  Anyway enough of me, I do thank you for your reply and if there is anything else you can think of I would appreciate your view

jo

doganjo

  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Clackmannanshire
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Re: 2 acre plot of land having problems with planners
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2020, 12:48:09 pm »
I wish I had a pound for every time I hear the phrase 'little tin gods' in reference to planning department staff.  ::) ::)

I had many of your problems when trying to get outline permission on a small plot i still owned from the smallholding my late partner and I had in Aberdeenshire.  It was about a fifth of an acre and had an old railway carriage and a wooden garage, and caravan hardstanding on it, with previous access to a field we had owned but sold to the adjacent farmer previously (I wish we had taken a loan to survive my partner's redundancy instead of selling that field.)
One planning officer when I was applying for a new house opposite it said 'that's where you should build your own house - perfect infil site and a great view.'

I had moved down here to central Scotland to be nearer my children in the middle of the process of trying to get approval.  It appeared that as soon as I moved away I became 'persona non grata' with my ex neighbours (who I seriously believed had been my friends  :'( :'( ). 

They started putting objections in, and were apparently seeing animals that I had never seen there in 12 years - red squirrels, pipistrelles in the  trees etc. (the bats had been living in our roof space so it was highly unlikely they had moved)  They persuaded the council to put a TPO put on first the whole plot, saying it was a shelter belt, then on the weed trees I intended to remove so I had to have the layout changed - twice

Fortunately I was treasurer of a smallholding group and one of our members was a planning consultant.  He offered his services for a much smaller fee than normal, and sorted it all out for me, and the planner was reprimanded, and the objections rejected, but not before I had to spend a lot of money on various environmental reports, and update the arborial one I had done years before which stated the weed trees were unsafe, due to being on a mound, ivy growing through them, large holes in teh trunks, split trunks etc etc.  The council environment guy had said they were perfectly all right.  So three of the TPOs remained - supposedly for all time  :innocent: 

I eventually got consent, sold the plot, at a reduced price because of the TPOs and the new owners managed to get permission to chop the trees down.  They knew someone influential it seems!  ::) ::)

So don't give up. Beat them at their own game. Get all the evidence you can. A lot of the  time they are lying, procrastinating, or just being bloody minded!  And remember that by law, all council meetings have to be minuted - even within departments.  The Freedom of Information Act is brilliant! Go for it!!!
« Last Edit: May 11, 2020, 12:53:40 pm by doganjo »
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age

RCTman

  • Joined Mar 2017
  • Rhondda fach
Re: 2 acre plot of land having problems with planners
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2020, 08:37:24 pm »
Some interesting reading here:- Planning Problems Faced by Small Farmers by Simon Fairlie, (Google it)

Busylizzie

  • Joined May 2020
Re: 2 acre plot of land having problems with planners
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2020, 05:51:02 pm »
 :wave:
Hello and thank you for your mail.   Surprisingly we have had a letter back from the Council stating that they have received my formal request for access to the file and this will be with us in 14 days   It seems strange that the officer  stated we could not have access and gave no reason why.   There are several discrepancies we have now found out that she visited on the 17th September, we were back living in our house at this stage, our sale had fallen through, and all the land was locked up. she stated she had gone on to the land under some powers with right to access without a warrant.   Well, I rang the planning and asked what the protocol was for entry on to land when notice of an intended enforcement was being considered.   Again surprise surprise, what she should have done is try to get in contact with us, the council have our telephone numbers and the address of the house we were going to sell, made contact with neighbours to see if they knew of any contact point.   Failing this, I am told then a notice to access the land/property without a warrant comes into force.   I wrote back in my last letter if she had rung us there would have been no problem in us getting to the land, 3 minutes away, and given her access.   However, she did not write to us about any alleged breach until January 15th 2020.  Another gaff me thinks.   She stated she told me nothing over the phone about her visit.  I informed her that according to my records she clearly stated that the gate was locked but could see the caravan from the top of the drive.   I have asked for photographic evidence of her visit and also the date when these photos were taken.   I have asked the dates that the complaints were made that we were living in the caravan.    She was obsessed that we had a table and 2 chairs in the awning and stated we were not allowed to have these.   I have asked her to show me the policy that states you cannot have any furnishings/comforts in an awning, bearing in mind that most caravans come with this.   I particularly asked her about the plot of land where we were growing vegetables and a photo of this because obviously as an enforcement officer paying a visit for any alleged breach of planning these would have to be taken to support her case.   I have not heard back from her but what we have now decided to do is, when we hear back from her, despite all the excuses and I think lack of proof, we will put a formal complaint into the Head of Planning as well as the Chief Executive.   We are one of the most cash strapped counties and to waste time on a caravan being put on a parcel of land for 28 days and it takes 2 ( i dont believe this) colleagues to come and look beggers belief.   I am not going to give up on this as like you say they are like tin gods and I honestly thought she could put us off and apply for planning for tunnels, storage of caravan over the winter, turn our veg patch from a domestic garden into agriculture and we would roll over.    No, I am going to take this all the way.   I am not sure what effect this will have on us when we apply for planning, it will either turn them against us or let them know that they had better get it right cos we are coming back


Busylizzie

  • Joined May 2020
Re: 2 acre plot of land having problems with planners
« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2020, 06:12:23 pm »
RCTman for your reply.    The link you sent was very interesting and I agree that getting planning on agricultural land can be abused and has been in the past.    It would be very difficult for us to come under this umbrella I think because at the moment the veg patch has increased dramatically, especially in these trying times with some foods being in short supply we are told, but we have at the current time enough veg to last our three families all through the winter, especially as they did in the old days that you eat seasonally and all is looking good.   the bees are buzzing away and the orchard is looking to be budding out.   In the past I rented a field and grew chemical free vegetables and made a reasonable living but nothing that would make me a millionaire.   However, my son in law, a bit of a eco warrier, has been helping me and is keen to turn the land over to a more viable opportunity, ie keep more bees, plant more fruit and certainly grow more veg.  We have had loads of people asking if the veg would be for sale when ready.    Not sure if this would qualify us for any of the opportunities in your link but any advice would be great.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: 2 acre plot of land having problems with planners
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2020, 06:18:20 pm »
Have you considered a bit of professional help?  Yes you pay for a consultant's time, but they know their stuff and the planners are always more comfortable if they know you are working with a reputable consultant.  I suspect you could pretty much save the consultant's fees in application, preapplication and reapplication fees ;) - and do it all with considerably less stress to boot.

I can recommend Situ8 in St Austell.  They have experience of working with alternative types (like you wanting to be off grid / self-sufficient and us being an eco village / cohousing community).  Maybe worth a phone call and a chat, see if they sound helpful to you?
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Busylizzie

  • Joined May 2020
Re: 2 acre plot of land having problems with planners
« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2020, 08:27:24 pm »
 :wave:Hi, it is funny you should mention Situ8 because they were the first people I rang because of several recommendations and when I sent her the land registry plan she came back and said they would not take this on because we were building into the countryside and they did not think they would win.   However, I think things have changed now because as I said before planning has been given about 2 plots down, after about 12 years and so this may change things for us and I think now we would definitely have to be considered for infill.   we are sitting back at the moment waiting to hear from the enforcement officer and once that is finished I think we will gather our thoughts and try to move forward.   It just seems one step forward and ten back.   Everyone else seems to be able to build but one gets the idea that the planners will move heaven and high water to stop us getting planning.   However, onwards we go but thank you for your suggestion.

doganjo

  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Clackmannanshire
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Re: 2 acre plot of land having problems with planners
« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2020, 11:32:08 am »
Be careful of waiting for enforcement.  I think it is permanent once an enforcement order is made on a property. - whatever it is that they are enforcing against can never be put on the property.
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age

Busylizzie

  • Joined May 2020
Re: 2 acre plot of land having problems with planners
« Reply #11 on: May 25, 2020, 08:27:09 am »
Hi, hearing what you are saying, they have not indicated any enforcement yet and am still waiting for her reply asking for all the evidence that she says she has.   Waiting for the 2018 file which she said i couldn't have and is now on its way.     We will have to wait and see what her reply is but for sure I think if there has been a breakdown of protocol then I may have to get some professional input as to how we reply to this.   At the moment, we are enjoying the garden, veggies are coming on great, pigeons frustrated because they cannot get to them and birds waiting to get their hands on the raspberries and blackcurrants.   If need be will have to share  :eyelashes:

thank you again for your replies and will, if you dont mind keep you informed.

 

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