Dover District Council was hell-bent on destroying my home and they succeeded. In doing so, the Planning Department deceived the Planning Committee by falsely stating that I had erected a new bungalow.
I purchased my bungalow on the 15th June 1984, yet at a Planning Committee meeting on the 12th July 1984, just 4 weeks later, David Sturt, Dover District Council’s Director of Planning, recommended to the elected members that they vote to demolish my home.
He obtained the desired outcome by deceiving the planning committee with a collection of false information, exaggerations and distortions, and they arrived at their decision without considering any representation from me.
Evidence proves that the Planning Committee’s decision to demolish my home was based on false information presented to them by Mr Sturt and this is confirmed by the findings of the Council’s own Professional Standards Investigator. In his report into my complaint he states:
6.10 After careful consideration of all the files and Documents relating to the history of this site I have come to the conclusion that the Planning Committee reached the decision to demolish the complainant’s home based on inaccurate and misleading advice.
6.11 This was maladministration.
In R. v Canterbury City Council ex parte Springimage 1993 it was Held that a decision is void if it is based on information put before a committee that is not correct or is incomplete. It is a general principle in law, that if a body stands by a decision they know to be wrong and should be accountable for, then that accountability may be the subject of review.
It is important to recognise that the 1985 enforcement action was not served in respect of the residential use, which was lawful at that time and therefore exempt from enforcement action. More precisely it was the works of improvement and repair that were the subject of the enforcement action.
The Town & Country Planning Act 1971 c.78 Part III section 23, subsection (9), relevant at that time, stated:
‘Where an enforcement notice has been served in respect of any development of land, planning permission is not required for the use of that land for the purpose for which it could lawfully have been used if that development had not been carried out.’
The bungalow I purchased was never demolished by me, prior to the works of improvement that I carried out, and David Sturt who was the Chief Planning Officer at the time confirmed that fact.
I may have carried out works of improvement or repair that required planning permission but I did not establish a home without planning permission because that already existed and had done so lawfully for 56 years.
If I had not carried out the works of improvement and repair the Council could not have demolished my home and I would still be living in it lawfully today. The fact is that I renovated an existing bungalow and there was no increase in its size and it occupied exactly the same footprint.
There is overwhelming and indisputable evidence to prove that I did not demolish the original bungalow nor erect a new bungalow, as follows:
David Sturt, who at the time was Dover Council’s Chief Planning Officer, confirmed that the original bungalow was never demolished. He confirmed this on the day of the demolition, witnessed and filmed by both the BBC and ITV.
There is written evidence from near neighbours confirming that I did not demolish the original bungalow nor erect a new bungalow.
There is a statement from the carpenter, who carried out work on my home, confirming that the original bungalow was not demolished and that the original timber frame remained throughout.
Also, in a letter dated 8th October 1984, Lesley Cumberland, Director of Legal and Administrative Services of Dover District Council stated:
“…On the 19th June 1984, Mr Richards, Area Planning Officer, in the company of Mr Johnson, Assistant Building Control Officer, visited the site……cladding had been removed, exposing all of the timber studwork. A new prefabricated trussed roof had replaced the original roof structure…”
The above extract of a letter from the Council’s Legal Department proves that the original timber frame remained in-situ throughout the works of renovation thereby confirming that I did not demolish the original bungalow and erect a new one, as the Council maliciously claimed.
And of course, there is the final and compelling evidence as Dover Council destroyed the bungalow. It was clear for everyone to see that the timber frame was not new, but the original frame, as I had always stated.
The Council completely ignored the long-standing and lawful residential use of the bungalow and acted as if I had taken a bare field and constructed a new dwelling upon it. Consequently they applied the wrong policies and their unlawful action was taken in the full knowledge of documents held, and which proved their action was wrong.
The Council’s action has never made any legal or moral sense and continues to be, totally inconsistent with the facts.