NEW FOREST DISTRICT COUNCIL
DAILY MAIL Thursday March 22 2001
Your house is illegal but it's your human right
A £750,000 house condemned as the most flagrant breach of planning permission has been saved from the bulldozers so as not to infringe the human rights of the owner.
Planners ordered Ken Duffy to demolish his five-bedroom 'chalet bungalow' in the New Forest saying he had built it twice the size they gave him clearance for. But he has successfully appealed against the order, even though the inspector hearing the case agreed the house seriously harmed an area of natural beauty and should never have been built.
Howard Russon said it would not be right to render the former night club owner, his wife Jacky and children Connor, six, Eamonn, four, and baby Melissa, homeless and bankrupt. It is the first time the human rights legislation which came controversially into force in October has been used in a planning dispute and could have serious implications for development laws.
Even Mr Duffy, 46, who spent two years building the property after moving to Hampshire from London, is surprised by the view taken by Mr Russon. Mr Duffy simply maintains he broke no laws in the first place. 'I am obviously over the moon but a bit surprised by the reason for allowing the appeal' he said. 'I believe that I built a home I was fully entitled to build and so accordingly I appealed against the council's order.'
Mr Russon backed the view of New Forest District Council that the house, in Ossemsley, near Lymington, bore no relation to the bungalow the plot of land had planning permission for, but decided they were not entitled to knock it down. 'The erection of this large detached dwelling has seriously harmed the character and appearance of this vulnerable rural area,' he said. I am therefore in no doubt that the retention of this dwelling has undermined the objectives of local planning policies aimed at protecting the very special landscape of this part of the New Forest.'
But he went on: 'The appellant drew my attention to the human rights legislation that makes it clear that everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and correspondence'. 'In this case I recognise that by upholding the enforcement notice in its present form the appellant and his young family will be made homeless.' 'In this situation it seems to me there would be a violation of the appellant's Human Rights under ARTICLE 8.
'I fully accept that these rights have to be balanced against the public interest and the need to protect the environment through the application of restrictive planning policies. However, the private costs in this case are very substantial and include the loss of the family home and possible financial ruin of the appellant.'
The Council is preparing an appeal to the High Court. 'The implications of this decision are so great that it is inevitable we shall appeal,' said Chris Elliot head of development control. 'My planning collegues across the country would expect us to appeal because it will effectively mean we are rarely if ever able to correct things that have already been done.'
Mr Elliot says his officers repeatedly warned Mr Duffy that his building was not in line with the planning permission, but by the time they realised how far he had contravened the plans it was too late to prevent it being finished. Local Government Association planning officer Lee Searle said: 'A lot of human rights decisions are in the test process. I this case goes further, through the full legal process, the nit will enable case law to be argued in the future. "This particular one sounds difficult and quite alarming.'
HUMAN RIGHTS APPEAL QUASHED - OCT 2001
NFDC challenged that decision in the high court and the Secretary of State and Mr Duffy have submitted to judgement. If this decision is used against authorities they need to be aware that it has been quashed. Details awaited from the Planning Inspectorate and New Forest District Council.
For further information contact: John Bosworth tel. 0117 975 1731 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Christopher Charlton Tel. 0117 975 1616 email@example.com
New Forest District Council was created by Act of Parliament on April 1
1974, and embraces the whole of the former Borough of Lymington, the New
Forest Rural District Council that was established in 1895, and the
greater part of the former Ringwood and Fordingbridge Rural District