2007 Enforcement Details

The original action by Dover District Council, when they destroyed my bungalow in 1989, was unlawful and therefore it follows that every action that the Council has taken against me since, is also unlawful.

The current action is a continuation of events which are a direct consequence of the council demolishing my home. Sometime after I was evicted from my property my neighbours contacted me to say that my garden was being used as a local dumping ground, so when somebody wanted to use my land as an allotment, it seemed a good idea to keep the fly tippers away. But it wasn’t a good idea and in fact made matters worse because the person who used it liked collecting scrap vehicles.

Despite the Council destroying my home and evicting me they continued to hound me and eventually took enforcement action, because as the landowner I was responsible for clearing the accumulation of rubbish.

I returned ‘home’ on 15th June 2002 and set about clearing the scrap cars and the huge amount of rubbish that, over the years, had been dumped in my garden.

My family, friends and myself all worked extremely hard clearing the garden and replanting it. It was a very disturbing experience to return to my family home and find it in such a disgusting state, particularly so because it was Dover Council’s wrongful action that had created the mess.

On the 26th July 2002 I noticed somebody peering through my front hedge with a camera and guessed he was from the Council. I introduced myself to him and made it very clear that he was welcome to call in at any time, explaining that it was not necessary for him to sneak around peering through the hedges to make his observations. He was extremely embarrassed and gave his name as Mark Mortimer, a part-time Officer with Dover District Council DDC.

Mike-DawsonHe went away and I did not hear anything further until I received a letter from him almost two months later. The letter was so absurd and contained such nonsense that I immediately wrote a letter, dated 16th September 2002, to Michael Dawson, (pictured) Chief Planning Officer, explaining the situation and offering to attend the Council offices or meet him at my home to discuss matters.

Michael Dawson responded on the 26th September 2002 stating:

“Thank you for your letter of 16th September 2002. Rather than respond to your letter point by point, I think the best way forward is to accept your offer of a meeting. Therefore my Development Control Manager, Mr Tim Flisher, will be in touch with you in the near future to make arrangements”.

Tim Flisher never did get in touch with me that year and neither did he at anytime throughout the whole of the next year, 2003. In fact there was no contact from the council for almost two years until the morning of Thursday 13th May 2004 when my attention was drawn to two men acting suspiciously near to the boundary of my property. When they saw me they concealed the camera they were using. Obviously I was concerned and felt it necessary to enquire as to the reason for their suspicious behaviour.

I introduced myself and I learnt that they were employees of Dover District Council DDC, namely Mark Mortimer and Paul Francis, who were carrying out enquiries on behalf of the Council, apparently in furtherance of the ongoing conflict about my lawful right to reside on my property. We had a discussion for a short time at my entrance gate.

I advised them, that should they be required to carry out any similar tasks in the future then they were welcome to park on my drive, rather than 100 yards along the narrow lane, which would avoid possible inconvenience to other road users. At Mr Mortimer’s request I gave my telephone numbers so that he was able to contact me more easily in future.Paul Francis

Mr Mortimer stated that Dover District Council would be taking renewed action against me in respect of the ongoing dispute over my lawful right to reside on my property.

In view of Michael Dawson’s letter of 26th September 2002, accepting my offer of a meeting and promising that Mr Flisher would be in touch to make the necessary arrangements, I was somewhat dismayed to find his officers snooping around threatening enforcement action, particularly as Tim Flisher did not get in touch first.

I immediately wrote a letter dated 14th May 2004 to Michael Dawson reminding him that almost two years had elapsed since he accepted my offer of a meeting and explained that it seemed only fair, just and courteous that a meeting, as promised, should have been the first logical step. It was my intention that a meeting would be a way forward to resolve the dispute fairly and amicably.

Michael Dawson did not reply to my letter.

However I did receive a telephone call from Paul Francis (Enforcement Officer) with the offer of a meeting, which of course I agreed to.

In the meantime, I again wrote to Michael Dawson on the 2nd June 2004 to remind him that he had originally promised a meeting with Tim Flisher, the Development Control Manager. I also confirmed acceptance of Paul Francis’ offer of a meeting and explained that, with no disrespect to Mr Francis, he had only been employed by DDC for a short period of time and yet my case spanned some twenty years. I urged that a senior officer, who is familiar with my case, should also be present.

Once again, Michael Dawson did not reply to my letter.

A meeting was subsequently held at 2.30pm on Thursday the 10th June 2004 at the council offices with Mark Mortimer, a part-time officer and Paul Francis, but neither Tim Flisher nor any other suitably qualified officer attended as I had requested.

At the meeting Mark Mortimer’s attitude made it clear that the council were not interested in resolving the situation fairly or amicably, which I thought was the intention of the meeting. He said they intended to take further direct action against me and Paul Francis warned me that if I did not remove my mobile home then the Council would forcibly do it for me.

The council refuse to accept compelling evidence of the long-standing residential use of my property, despite Council records confirming its lawful use, but instead continue to act as if I had placed a mobile home on a Greenfield site (which is categorically not the case).

The officers then stated that they needed to inspect my home to confirm that I was living there and a visit was arranged for 3pm on the 18th June 2004.

It seemed a strange demand because I had openly stated that I was residing in the mobile home and Council Tax, for residential use, has always been paid. But when they arrived their real motive was made clear. They soon went in to ‘the good cop, bad cop’ routine with Paul Francis whispering to Mark Mortimer (but loud enough for me to hear) how and where they would fix the chains on my mobile home in order to drag it off my land. They were clearly trying to intimidate.

It transpired that the two meetings I had with these officers were merely a convenience for them to gather evidence, contrary to my understanding, which was an attempt to seek a fair resolution to this dispute.

In view of their behaviour I wrote to Tim Flisher on 12th July 2004 to seek confirmation regarding the council’s proposed action. I also expressed my concern that over the past few years I had entered into lengthy and carefully considered correspondence with Dover District Council DDC but often received no reply and that on numerous occasions I requested a meeting but those requests were either ignored or refused.

I also asked Tim Flisher to confirm when my case was to be heard, in order that I had the opportunity to present a full summary to the Planning Committee for their consideration, before a final decision is made.

As I did not receive a reply to my letter, Debbie (a friend who is assisting me) telephoned Tim Flisher on 26th July 2004 and discussed with him the contents of my letter of 12th July. He admitted to having received it but not having read it.

She explained the frustration of never receiving a timely response to any issues raised with the Council. Tim Flisher explained this delay, was in part, because he was awaiting a copy of a report from his officer, Mark Mortimer. Tim Flisher stated that he placed great importance on receiving this report before matters could proceed.

This marked the start of protracted correspondence regarding Mark Mortimer’s ‘report’ and resulted in an exchange of fifteen letters, including me requesting sight of a copy of the report from Tim Flisher, who refused my request and referred me to DDC’s legal department where the council’s assistant solicitor, Lee May, informed me it was exempt information.

The Council went to great lengths to refuse me access to this ‘important document’ only for me to discover much later, that the crucial report does not exist! If it does not exist, why was I refused access to it?

Tim Flisher did not reply to my letter of the 12th July so Debbie telephoned him again on 9th August 2004 and discussed their previous telephone conversation of 26th July (most of which he needed reminding of). He undertook to reply to my unanswered letter of 12th July.

Tim Flisher did eventually reply to my letter informing me that on 19th February 2004 (in a secret meeting, six! months earlier) the Planning Committee resolved that funds be made available to employ contractors to remove my mobile home. At no time did the Council have the courtesy to inform me about their intentions or give me the opportunity to present any form of defence, which is a clear breach of Article 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998, which guarantees the right to a fair hearing. The Planning Committee made their decision based solely on the Planning Department’s report, which was biased, misleading and incomplete.

Clearly, during my meetings with Mark Mortimer and Paul Francis, they were hiding under a cloak of deceit. They knew of the Planning Committee’s decision when they met with me on the 10th and 18th June and said nothing. Equally, when I wrote to the Council’s Chief Planning Officer, Michael Dawson, on 14th May and 2nd June he should have informed me that the Council had already made a decision to forcibly remove me. But he said nothing, which amounts to deliberate suppression. He didn’t even acknowledge receipt of my letters. The Council went through a charade knowing what their intentions were, all along.

19th August 2004. I wrote to Tim Flisher stating that the contents of his last letter contradicted the information he had given Debbie during his telephone conversation with her on the 9th August, when he said that the Planning Committee was still to be advised upon the full facts before being asked to decide on whether any action was to be. Yet, in his letter to me he stated that the decision had already been taken, six months ago. I asked him to clarify the position.

14th September 2004. Tim Flisher did not reply to my letter so Debbie telephoned him. He cited resource problems as his reason for not responding to my letter.

He also confirmed that a decision was indeed taken at the February Planning Meeting to take direct action against me but as a result of the representations I had made it was decided that the Council should further research matters to ensure that any action they may take was lawful. He added that it was now the Council’s intention to put the matter back to the Planning Committee with the further information obtained by their enforcement officers and as a result of research carried out by their legal department.

It became clear that another rash decision, taken by the Council in that secret meeting in February, was based on insufficient and incorrect information. Yet another example of a heavy-handed blunder by the Council with them acting first and asking questions afterwards.

Debbie attempted to discuss the historical situation with Tim Flisher but he refused to discuss or comment on any action taken historically and advised her that his responsibility was solely in relation to current matters and he repeated this several times during the course of their conversation. Debbie remonstrated that current matters were a direct consequence of the Council’s original, unlawful action and therefore all subsequent action would be unlawful also, which makes the historical events highly relevant. Tim Flisher continued to refuse to discuss any action taken historically.

15th September 2004. Tim Flisher responded with a letter in which he confirmed that the Committee’s decision taken in February 2004 was made on the basis of the information then available to it, since when the Council had retracted its decision because of the information I had submitted.

In his letter, Tim Flisher also informed me that I would be served with a Planning Contravention Notice (PCN) within three weeks but emphasised that it was not an enforcement notice but a means where the Council can find out about activities on my land, adding that I would later be invited to meet officers to discuss the Notice. He also informed me that Mark Mortimer had now left the Council.

20th September 2004. I wrote to Tim Flisher thanking him for clarifying the situation and to inform him that I would be pleased to complete and return the Planning Contravention Notice.

11th October 2004. The PCN was not served within the time stated so Debbie telephoned Tim Flisher. He stated that the document was with him, awaiting his comments, before being returned to the legal department for the final touches before it was despatched. He anticipated this would be completed by the end of the week.

18th October 2004. The PCN still did not arrive as promised so Debbie once again telephoned Tim Flisher enquiring as to the current progress of it. He was unable to indicate when it would be ready but stated that personal service would be necessary, advising Debbie to contact Lee May (Council solicitor) directly and arrange a suitable time for it to be collected.

During the conversation Debbie complained to Tim Flisher about the Council dragging its heels and not replying to correspondence in a timely way and his response was:

“This case is unprecedented in that never before had anyone chased for a PCN before, many people would consider it advantageous that no action had been taken to date, people were usually happy to let sleeping dogs lie”

As Tim Flisher had previously placed great emphasis on receiving Mr Mortimer’s ‘report’ before matters could be progressed, Debbie asked whether we could be furnished with a copy. Tim Flisher stated that this was not usual practice and that he would have to seek advice from his legal department. It was agreed that if a formal written request were made, it would be considered and responded to.

Debbie telephoned Lee May regarding the PCN, as advised and he anticipated that: “It would be ready on Tuesday 19th and Mr Moulder would be welcome to collect it” Lee May told Debbie that he would telephone me to confirm when it was available for collection and if for any reason I did not hear from him on Tuesday, then I was to telephone him on Wednesday.

I did not receive a call from Lee May and so I telephoned him on Wednesday morning, as arranged. Lee May bluntly told me that the PCN had been sent the previous day by recorded delivery.

This was completely at odds with our arrangement, which was put in place because it was likely, as actually happened, that I would not be at home to sign for the letter.

This was yet another example of Dover District Council not carrying out their undertaking.

23rd October 2004. I wrote to Tim Flisher to formally request a copy of Mark Mortimer’s report, which detailed his findings following his investigation into my residence of ‘The Oaks’.

1st November 2004. An email from Lee May confirms that a meeting has been arranged, in connection with the PCN, for the 16th November.

3rd November 2004. Tim Flisher refuses to provide a copy of Mark Mortimer’s ‘report’.

5th November 2004. In an email to Lee May I make a second request for a copy of Mark Mortimer’s ‘report’ that Mr. Flisher refused me access to.

Lee May replies, informing me that the ‘report’ I require is exempt information but in order to assess whether or not the information I requested should be made available to me, it will be necessary for him to go though the relevant papers in consultation with the planning department (the department I contacted in the first place).

9th November 2004. In a letter to Lee May, Debbie questions Lee May’s reasons for refusing to provide a copy of Mark Mortimer’s ‘report’ and refers to the Freedom of Information Act which is due to come into force on January 1st 2005.

12th November 2004. In response to numerous requests for a copy of Mark Mortimer’s ‘report’, to which Tim Flisher had repeatedly attached great importance, I received a letter from Lee May in which, for some bizarre reason, he enclosed copies of two brief, typed notes written by Paul Francis, although it had been made abundantly clear that it was a copy of Mark Mortimer’s ‘report’ that was required.

14th November 2004. Debbie wrote to Lee May stating that the two file notes he had sent and which were written by Paul Francis, merely provided ‘details’ of the two most recent meetings that had taken place. She confirmed to him that for the avoidance of doubt the document required is the Mark Mortimer report that Tim Flisher stated was important for him to see before he could consider a meeting to progress matters. Debbie made a further request for a copy of the ‘report’.

15th November 2004. Received an Email from Lee May intimating surprise that we were seeking a different document from those that were enclosed with his letter! He added that the information I seek would feature on Mr Flisher’s file so he had forwarded my request to him so that he may identify whether it exists and, if so, that it is open to inspection. (He offered this ‘advice’ knowing full well that it was Mr Flisher who refused me access to the ‘report’ in the first instance)

He ended by saying that either Mr Flisher or himself would revert to me on this point as soon as possible.

The Mortimer ‘Report’.

It didn’t make sense for the Council to go to such great lengths to refuse something that didn’t exist. Tim Flisher instigated the saga of the ‘Mortimer report’ and I requested a copy only because he placed great emphasis on its importance and he explicitly gave that as a reason why he could not progress matters.

There were no less than fifteen letters exchanged with the Council relating to Mark Mortimer’s ‘report’ and in view of such extensive correspondence over this specific document it is reasonable to assume that it did in fact exist.

If it did not exist why did Tim Flisher refuse to release the document and why did Lee May quote relevant sections and subsections of the Freedom of Information Act in order to support his refusal to release this document?

Why did such a critical document never materialise?

It might lead one to conclude that the document has been suppressed or destroyed because it contained information, which if released, could compromise the Council’s position.

16 November 2004. A Time and Place meeting, to discuss the PCN, was held at the Council Offices with Tim Flisher, Lee May and Paul Francis. Debbie, along with Mr Lawson, a lawyer, accompanied me. At the meeting the Council recommended that I submit a planning application, which I agreed to but I suggested that a meeting at my home would be useful before confirming the type of application I should submit.

Tim Flisher indicated that there might not actually be a Mortimer ‘report’ after all, although some rough notes might have been made! We were advised to make a formal, written request (again).

Lee May stated (wrongly) that one of my difficulties was that my land was a Greenfield site. I challenged him on this false statement and informed him that it was in fact a Brownfield site. He promised to go away and check.

Brownfield land is the common term for ‘Previously Developed Land. It is defined in Planning Policy Guidance Document 3 (PPG3) “Housing” (2000) as land which “is or was occupied by a permanent structure……….” And occurs in both built-up and rural settings.

Greenfield land is virgin land, a field or area where development has not previously taken place, a site which has not been built on before, any land that has not been previously developed, most often in rural areas such as farmland.

24th November 2004. In a letter to Tim Flisher Debbie made a formal, written request in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 for all relevant notes relating to Mark Mortimer’s investigation into my case. She also requested a copy of the report of the Chief Planning and Building Control Officer which was put to the Planning Committee on Thursday 19th February 2004 which resolved that funds be made available to employ contractors to remove my mobile home.

29th November 2004. Letter to Tim Flisher telling him that I am pleased to accept the advice he gave me at our meeting at the Council offices and I will prepare and submit my planning application as soon as possible.

29th November 2004. Email from Tim Flisher acknowledging my intention to submit a planning application and suggesting that we can discuss the details at the meeting at my home scheduled for the 9th December 2004.

9th December 2004. A meeting at my home went ahead as planned, attended by Tim Flisher, Lee May, Paul Francis, Debbie and myself. The purpose of the meeting was to enable DDC employees to familiarise themselves with the site and its current appearance and clarify any areas of uncertainty with regard to my planning application. From my point of view I wished to ensure that DDC were fully acquainted with all aspects of the site and its surroundings, update them as to my intentions and obtain their view on my proposed course of action and time scale.

I stated my intention to submit a planning application for a bungalow. Tim Flisher advised me that it would be easier to regularise an existing situation than consider the merits of a new one and committee members would look more favourably if I were to, initially, submit a planning application regarding the current use of my mobile home and that I should consider making an application for a bungalow at a later date. I accepted his recommendation, as it was my desire to proceed in the most appropriate way. Tim Flisher also advised me to plant a second row of hedging in the front boundary to provide additional screening. I took him to the boundary and showed him the young beech hedge plants, which I had already planted next to the existing hornbeam hedge. (He later told Mr Grieve during my complaint that screening would make no difference to my application. In other words, he advised me to waste my time and money)

Debbie asked Lee May if he had been able to clarify whether he considered the status of my land to be a Greenfield or a Brownfield site. He stated that since our meeting at DDC offices when this issue was first raised my file had been returned to his tray and he had not been able to consider it further (Obviously not that high a priority!) Rather concerning as the land’s status is an important material consideration.

Lee May never did clarify the classification of my land as Brownfield or Greenfield. However, later during my complaint against the Council, their Professional Standards Investigator confirmed that the Council accepted it was indeed a Brownfield site and not Greenfield.

28th February 2005, submitted my planning application, entitled “Use of Mobile Home, Garden Sheds and Greenhouse for Residential Purposes”.


2007 Enforcement

Dover District Councillors voted to take enforcement action to remove my home, my garden shed and greenhouse. The decision was made in a secret meeting, which I was barred from attending. Their secret procedures are archaic and almost certainly a breach of Article 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998, which guarantees the individual a legal right to a fair hearing. So much for ‘democracy’ in modern day Britain.

The original action by Dover District Council, when they destroyed my bungalow in 1989, was unlawful and therefore it follows that every action that the council has taken against me since, is also unlawful.

Councillors are still making perverse decisions based on incorrect and misleading information, presented to them by officer’s who are obviously trained liars. However, they can no longer claim that they are not liable because they will now be aware, having been put on notice, that the original decision was flawed.

If you would like to read a more detailed version of what led to this action, including the Council’s secret meetings, their failure to reply to correspondence, the ‘lost’ documents etc, then please click here.

This latest enforcement notice also includes a requirement that I remove the gravel drive, which DDC wrongfully claim I have created. However the driveway has always existed and I have explained this to the Council repeatedly. The last time was on the 27 December 2005 when I wrote to Tim Flisher:

27 December 2005

Dear Mr Flisher

…………………With regard to your letter of 19th December 2005 and in particular your reference to the ‘gravel drive’ I am at a loss to understand why this has been specifically referred to within the intended enforcement notices it is proposed to serve. The long-standing, lawfully existing driveway is not in dispute. Over the years, since I first purchased my bungalow in 1984, various types of shingle have been applied to the surface of my driveway. Upon returning to my home in June 2002 I simply renewed the shingle and this is how it remains. As far as I am aware this simple action would not require planning permission to be obtained and I am therefore seeking clarification as to why specific mention is made of it in the summary of your proposed action………..

Yours sincerely

Peter Moulder

Tim Flisher replied with an E-mail which stated:


T Flisher – tim.flisher@dover.gov.uk

03 January 2006 18:16

…”I will, of course, arrange for what you say concerning the driveway to be considered. The Committee has authorised action to include it, but that does not automatically mean that its removal will be required. If it can be demonstrated that it existed at least 10 years ago and there has been no material change in the interim, then action is most unlikely…

Yours sincerely

Tim Flisher


Despite Mr Flisher’s feigned reasonableness and the indisputable evidence of established use, he went ahead with enforcement action anyway. But from previous experience I knew he spoke with a forked tongue.

The driveway had in fact been in existence for at least 25 years before I purchased my bungalow in 1984, so it’s been a driveway for almost 50 years now. There is photographic evidence confirming its existence for at least 22 years and DDC have record of a statement, taken in 1984 from a local Councillor [name supplied], confirming the long-standing existence of the driveway.

The photographs below prove conclusively that the Council are wrong. Again!

This photograph shows how the driveway looked in 1985:

Driveway 1985


The photograph below  shows how the driveway looked in 2007; hardly any noticeable difference, except of course that the Council had destroyed the bungalow by then:

Driveway 2007


Dover District Council’s attitude seems to be, to take action first and if wrong just LIE to avoid the consequences.

If you would like to read a more detailed version of what led to this action, including the Council’s secret meetings, their failure to reply to correspondence, the ‘lost’ documents etc, then please click here.



The Council have stated at various times during this dispute, both verbally and in writing, that the residential use of my bungalow had been abandoned. However, there is indisputable evidence to prove that the residential use had NEVER been abandoned.

In fact, the Council’s own chief solicitor acknowledged, in writing, that the residential use had NOT been abandoned prior to these statements being made.

It is not disputed that my bungalow had been in existence for some 56 years at the time I purchased it in 1984, a considerable time and well before the 1st July 1948 (the “Appointed Day” for the Town and Country Planning Act 1947). Given the length of time the bungalow had stood (since 1928) and the fact that the Council were approvingly aware of it, the dwelling would be considered as permanent and entitled.

During any intermittent short period of time when the owner was away, there was no other intervening use other than residential and any absence by the owner was merely temporary. It has been Held in the High Court that if a cessation of use is merely temporary then it does not amount to abandonment and the previous use can be resumed without planning permission.

Throughout any short period that the bungalow may have been empty, it continued to be rated as a residential dwelling.

After I had finished the works of improvement and repair to my bungalow an Officer from the District Valuers Office carried out a close inspection of it on 24th October 1984 in order to reassess the domestic rateable value. During this inspection the officer had in his possession a copy of the original plans of the bungalow to which he referred whilst accurately measuring the renovated property. He concluded that the measurements and construction of the renovated bungalow remained the same and subsequently reassessed the domestic rateable value due to the improvements.

The bungalow’s assessment reference number remained the same when the valuation increased on 7th November 1984. The lawful residential use was not challenged at this time and in his report the officer refers only to works of renovation carried out to the lawfully existing bungalow. NO mention, whatsoever, is made of ‘the erection of a new dwelling’, which the Council falsely claimed.

Throughout the time the bungalow was empty, prior to my purchase, it remained weatherproof with intact windows, walls and roof, thereby retaining the essential characteristics of a dwelling. When I viewed the bungalow in April 1984 the estate agent had to provide door keys because the property was locked and secured. I moved into the bungalow in June 1984.

Whilst empty the property had been targeted by vandals thus the owner, Miss Dickinson, took the precaution of boarding the windows up to secure the property and guard against vandalism.  She also employed her neighbour to clear the overgrown garden, prior to instructing the estate agent to sell the bungalow. Miss Dickinson’s actions were highly indicative of her intention at that time, which was to preserve the building and not to abandon its residential use.

Therefore the residential use could lawfully be resumed without planning permission.

Prior to purchase my solicitor carried out all the usual searches and the Enquiries of District Councils Form was completed, signed and dated 21 May 1984 by Lesley Cumberland, Director of Legal and Administrative Services of Dover District Council.

All references to the Public Health Act, Town & Country Planning Act and General Development Order, relating to permitted-development, were answered in the affirmative and the existing, long-standing residential use was not challenged, thus the Council’s legal department ratified the current lawful residential use.

If the Council had reservations about the residential status of the property then this was the time to declare them. My Solicitor had put them on notice that I intended purchasing the property as a residence.

When I moved into the bungalow it already benefited from a bathroom and kitchen and included the previous owners furniture and curtains. In addition there were packets and tins of food in the cupboards along with magazines and newspapers, all indicating fairly recent domestic use.

Further evidence that the residential use had not been abandoned is contained in a letter from Lesley Cumberland, Director of Legal and Administrative Services to my solicitor, dated 8th October 1984, which stated:

“…I have conferred with the Director of Planning on the alleged statement that the residential use of the site may have ended, and I can confirm that the Council are not saying that the residential user rights have been abandoned, only that the operation carried out on site is, as a matter of fact and degree, a building operation and thereby constitutes development requiring planning permission…”


Further conclusive evidence that the residential use had not been abandoned is contained within a Planning Inspectorate letter. The Planning Inspector, Richard W. Pratt, stated:

“A bungalow was built on the site in about 1928, and remained in use as a dwelling house up to the time of the appellant’s acquisition of the land in 1984……

I accept that, at that time, the residential use of the building would have been lawful, because it pre-dated the Appointed Day, 1 July 1948″.

When I made a complaint against the Council an investigation was carried out by their own senior Professional Standards Investigator. His report made direct reference to the question of abandonment when he stated the following:

  • 3.6 There is independent evidence that the bungalow was used for residential purposes from 1934 to the summer of 1982…

  • 3.32 Taking into account the Planning Inspectors findings in November 2000, the Head of Legal Services advice to the complainant’s solicitor in her letter of 8th October 1984, the evidence provided by the next door neighbour and the undisputed evidence that between June 25th 1984 and 31st July 1989 the complainant and his family lived at the Oaks, it is my view that there is a record of residential use of the site from 1928 to 31st July 1989.
  • 6.22 It is my view based on the contemporary evidence of neighbours, the finding of the planning inspector in November 2000 and the statement made by the Director of Planning and Administrative Services in her letter of 8th October 1984, that at the time residential user rights had not been abandoned and indeed existed.

 There is irrefutable evidence therefore, that the residential use of the bungalow had not been abandoned.

Despite the Council’s own legal department being fully aware that the residential use had NOT been abandoned, they erroneously pursued a path of action stating that it HAD been abandoned. This indicates reckless pursuit and malice aforethought, making the subsequent demolition of my home an act of criminal damage.   

Copied below is legal advice about what constitutes a dwelling house and the related concept of abandonment. It is important to note that this is an internal memorandum from Dover Council’s Head of Legal Services to their planning department.

It concerns a rural property known as ‘Windy Ridge’, Preston Hill, Wingham, a bungalow that had been destroyed by fire in August 1977 and which remained an uninhabitable ruin for 21 years before an application was made for a Certificate of Lawful Use.


To: Director of Planning and Technical Services
(Originator) Ian Ginbey – Ext: 2328
Attn: Tim Flisher


Your ref: TJF/EC/DOV/97/0912
My ref:-L/IG/PLAN 1(W)
Date: 7 July 1998

Thank you for your memorandum of 29 June.

I note from the letter which you have received from the applicant’s agent that the application is now restricted to the “chalet” which is essentially what was agreed at last month’s site meeting. My recollection of that meeting is that it was also agreed that a structure, such as the “chalet”, is capable of being described as a “dwelling-house” and reference was made, in this respect, to the Gravesham case. This is also confirmed by the agent.

I would only add that you should have regard to the related concept of Abandonment in the context of the application. In most cases, these two concepts are fused; that is, facts that point to abandonment will also point to the conclusion that the building is not a dwelling house. It follows that in the instant case the applicants should evidence that the use of the “chalet” as a dwelling-house has not been abandoned in order to gain the benefit of a Certificate of Lawfulness of Existing Use pursuant to Section 191 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

I recall that the submitted evidence is a little vague in this respect with only one statement making reference to Miss Maxted’s occupation of the “chalet” (although it is possible that some of the evidence has been given on the premise that the bungalow and the “chalet” are one and the same). It is, of course, a matter for you to determine as a matter of fact and degree and you no doubt formed an opinion at the site meeting. Certainly, there appeared to be some evidence of residential occupation.

Notwithstanding the above, I should add for the sake of completeness that there obviously can be cases where even though a dwelling-house use has been abandoned, the building may still be regarded as constituting a dwelling-house. In such cases, operations could be undertaken to the building, but clearly it could not be used as a dwelling house without the grant of planning permission.

Contrariwise, I suppose it is just conceivably possible to argue that, although a building was such a ruin that it could not be considered a dwelling house, the use as a dwelling house had never been abandoned.

Ian D. Ginbey (Assistant Solicitor)

For Head of Legal Services (JWH)

‘Windy Ridge’ is just one example of the extreme inconsistency that is prevalent in Dover District Council’s decision making. There are many more.