Certificate of lawful use bid for bungalow built more than four years ago in the Fenland countryside without planning permission

Workshop Bungalow at Turf Drove, Turves, which owner Steve Baker says was built longer ago than four

Workshop Bungalow at Turf Drove, Turves, which owner Steve Baker says was built longer ago than four years. He has appliied to Fenland Council for a certificate of lawfulness in the absence of formal planning consent. Picture; PLANSURV - Credit: Archant

A gated bungalow built in the countryside without planning permission could become lawful if Fenland District Council accepts an application for a lawful development certificate.

The application has been made by Steve Baker who has told the council he has lived there for longer that four years and so is entitled for it to be given a certificate.

Workshop Bungalow is at Cherry Tree Farm to the east of Turf Drove, Turves, and Mr Baker says he cleared the site in 2014 and began work on his new home.

Supporting his claims he has produced photographs and evidence including from the man who says he helped to build it.

PlanSurv, Mr Baker’s agents, have produced evidence to support the contention that the house is older than four years.

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Nigel Bates, Austen Moore, and John Green claimed Mr Baker has occupied the bungalow for at least four years.

Postman Stuart Chatman has testified that he’s delivered letters to Mr Baker for longer than four years whilst Geoffrey Relph says he completed the initial ground works and the second fix “so is well acquainted with the property”.

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PlanSurv has also produced photographic evidence showing the roof being put on through to cladding and finishing of the bungalow.

“The submitted timed and dated photographs document the development of the Workshop Bungalow and clearly show the construction process culminating in its completion in November 2014,” says PlanSurv.

The agents point out that under a 1991 planning act the council can issue a certificate of lawful development.

They point to a legal test that counts the “balance of probability” as being applied when determining such applications.

“The evidence proves that on the balance of probability that the bungalow has been erected for more than four years and has been used continually without planning permission for residential use,” says PlanSurv.

“This satisfies the legal tests in establishing the four and ten year rule respectively for immunity against the local planning authority from taking enforcement action and the development is therefore considered to be lawful.”

PlanSurv concluded that “it is clear that the building, gates and pillars were erected and substantially completed in November 2014 which is over four years ago”.

In 2014 Mr Baker gained a certificate of lawfulness for two buildings for agricultural use in association with Cherry Tree Farm. He said they had been there for longer than 10 years and the council concluded “there was no evidence to challenge the submission”.

The council was told by Nigel Bates that he had helped put up the buildings “some 30 years ago”.

Another letter from Austen Moore said that when he bought the property in 2006 the buildings were in-situ at that time.

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