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Judge orders barn in Blubberhouses to be demolished

The owners of a barn built without planning permission have been ordered by a High Court Judge to demolish it. The landowners built the barn on Meagill Lane in Blubberhouses despite Harrogate Borough Council’s repeated warnings about it being without planning permission.

The case was heard in the High Court in Leeds (20 November) and Mr Justice Coulson found that the council had acted ‘properly and fairly’ whilst the defendant’s case ‘…was a mix of the technical and the sly, and should fail…{because} anything else would result in an injustice and would come uncomfortably close to allowing the defendants to take advantage of their own wrong’.

The judgement marks the conclusion of long running dispute between the council’s planning team and the landowners of the site who have repeatedly sought to establish, without success, that planning permission existed or that it should be granted in respect of a barn.

Councillor Alan Skidmore, Cabinet Member for Planning, Transport and Economic Development, is pleased that the Court has supported the council’s efforts to ensure that unlawful development is properly manage:

The Judge has sent a clear message to all, that playing the planning system will not be tolerated.

This recent action was instigated by the council when it became aware in March 2011 that work had begun on the erection of a barn at Meagill Lane in the same location as was covered by earlier refusals for planning permission and also by an enforcement notice in respect of unlawful development by the landowner.

Councillor Skidmore added:

The landowners refused to comply with the council’s request to cease construction and knock down what they had built, the council therefore issued legal proceedings for an injunction requiring the demolition of the barn.

Mr Justice Coulson had strong words for the owners, concluding that they had sought to ‘play the system’ and this was an abuse of the planning process. He stated that they had done this by deliberately acting in a way to create confusion and give themselves the ability to argue that they had achieved planning permission by default when the council had told them on five occasions that planning permission for the barn had been refused.

Councillor Alan Skidmore has passed on his congratulations to the council’s legal and planning officers on a well-won case:

The Judge agreed with them on just about every point. It is now a shame that, because the owners didn’t listen, they are now faced with costs, not just for the demolition but also for our legal costs which we will be seeking to recover.

The council will also be seeking an order that the site be restored to its previous condition by 23 November 2013.


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