Supreme Court Rejects House Disguised as a Barn

Posted: 11th April 2011

The man who disguised his house as a barn and then claimed that the local council was ‘out of time’ to take action with regard to the breach in planning permission has lost his appeal to the Supreme Court.

Having obtained planning permission to build a barn, the man built what looked like a barn from the outside, but was actually a three-bedroomed house.

He and his wife lived there for four years, during which the local authority was unaware of the breach of the planning permission. They then applied for a certificate of lawful use on the ground that the council had not taken any action with regard to their breach of planning permission within the four-year period laid down by statute for doing so. Obtaining the certificate would legitimise its use as a dwelling.

The key element of the judgment of the Supreme Court was that despite the apparently clear wording of the relevant legislation, the dishonesty exhibited by the couple was so far exceeded the contemplation of those who framed the legislation that the application could not be allowed to succeed. The council was given permission not only to prevent the continued occupation of the property as a dwelling but also to require its demolition.

The Supreme Court has indicated, in the clearest possible terms, that people who attempt to obtain a certificate of lawful use certificate by deception will not succeed. Another case, in which an unauthorised development was built and carefully hidden from view, is likely to be decided on the same basis.