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Deception

Whilst this topic has very little to do with the issues we normally deal with we thought some readers may find this article interesting.

Mr Beesley obtained planning permission to construct a barn. However, he actually constructed a 3 bedroom house and disguised it as a barn. He and his wife then lived there for 4 years undetected however, when Mr Beesley then applied for a certificate of lawfulness the certificate was refused.

The case has had quite a lot of publicity with many people divided on whether Mr Beesley should or should not be granted the certificate of lawfulness. That decision we leave to you.

What Mr Beesley did after the 4 years of occupation was to apply under section 191 of the 1990 Act for a certificate of lawfulness of the building as a dwelling house in reliance on section 171B(2) on the ground that there had been change of use of the building from the permitted barn to that of a single dwelling house and that the four-year period within which enforcement action had to be brought had elapsed.

However the Supreme Court took the view that there had been no change of use of the building to use as a single dwelling house for the purposes of section 171B(2) as the building had never been constructed or used as a barn. They further held that the issue was whether it could have been the legislator’s intention that a person conducting himself like Mr Beesley could invoke the benefits of sections 171B and 191.

Mr Beesley’s conduct consisted of positive deception in matters integral to the planning process and was directly intended to and did undermine the regular operation of the process. If the certificate was issued he would have profited directly from that deception if the passing of the normal four-year period for enforcement which he brought about by deception were to entitle him to resist enforcement. This, the court held could not be the intention of the legislator.

To quote Lord Brown of Eaton-Under-Heywood USC

on any possible view the whole scheme was in the highest degree dishonest and any law abiding citizen would be not merely shocked by it but astonished to suppose that once discovered, instead of being enforced against, it would be crowned with success and Mr Beesley entitled to a certificate of lawful use to prove it. The dishonesty involved in this case appeared to constitute a category all its own in this area of the law.

The council is now to make a decision on the continued use of the building as a dwelling house and additionally on its construction.

2 Comments

  • Peter Smith 7th April 2011 at 12:59 pm

    The courts cannot be manipulated to support dishonest dealing (although in the case of banks they are). That way lies chaos (as banks prove time and again).

    Beesley not only evaded planning law but also building regulations. There’s no knowing what construction rules he ignored.

    He may sound like a jovial buccaneer but allow one pirate to go unpunished and they spring up everywhere, with disastrous results for law and order.

    The man asked for a barn, he should be made to have a barn and no more.

  • Ray Comer 8th April 2011 at 9:56 am

    I agree, planning laws are abused time and time again with people expecting to get away with it simply because what they have built, they now quantify as their home. He clearly had the funds to build a new home, but he chose to ignore the laws in deciding where he could build it.

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