How It All Started

I planned to start a new life with my partner and our two children when in 1984 we purchased a property called ‘The Bungalow’ in Warren Lane, Nr Lydden, Dover.

The timber-framed bungalow, which had two bedrooms, lounge, kitchen and bathroom was an existing dwelling in lawful residential use. It had been neglected for some years and was in need of some tlc so upon moving in on the 15th June I began renovating it and making cosmetic changes. The existing timber frame was retained, the walls re-clad, new windows fitted and it was re-roofed. No extensions were added thus the size of the original footprint remained the same.

Sworn statements are available which confirm the renovation works and can be viewed by clicking here.

Within days of purchasing the bungalow, Dover District Council falsely stated that I had ‘erected a new dwelling’ and ordered me to demolish it. They acted as if I had erected a new dwelling on a virgin site and chose to ignore the existing lawful residential status of the bungalow.

I purchased my bungalow on the 15th June 1984 yet just 6 days later, at a planning meeting on 21st June 1984, the Planning Committee discussed ‘Works at The Bungalow, Warren Lane, Lydden’ and resolved to hold a site meeting on 7th August 1984.

The date for the site meeting coincided with an important Hearing at Canterbury Court where I was seeking an order for access to my two children as their Mother was refusing me visiting rights. I rushed back home as soon as the Hearing ended, just as Council Members were leaving my garden. I tried to explain why I was late and emphasised the importance of the Court appointment and the fact that my children took priority. The Council Members ignored me and the Planning Officer told me they viewed my absence as a snub and were irritated.

David SturtAt a meeting dated 9th August 1984, the Planning Committee again discussed ‘Building and ancillary works at The Bungalow, Warren Lane, Lydden’. The Director of Planning, David Sturt, reported on the views expressed by Members viewing the site and “on the response made by the owner of the site to the Council’s invitation to him to be present at the site meeting”.

They resolved to destroy my bungalow a few weeks after I purchased it and I believe that Council Members set out to punish rather than comply with the correct planning regulations. To this day, 34 years later, they have refused to communicate with me.

Their unlawful decision was made based solely on incorrect and misleading information presented by the paid officials and without considering any representation from me.

An enforcement notice was wrongfully issued and we lived under the threat of demolition for five years, until 1989 when the Council came along one morning with a mechanical digger and smashed the bungalow to pieces whilst we were still living there with our two children. Following this the Council stated that they were not obliged to provide accommodation for us because we had ‘made ourselves homeless’. This was pre Human Rights days of course.

The council served the wrong notice because the breach they allege I committed did not occur. The Town & Country Planning Act states that an enforcement notice shall specify that steps be taken to restore the land to its condition before the breach took place. In other words, put the bungalow back to as it was before I carried out the cosmetic changes.

The unlawful demolition of my bungalow took place because Council officials deceived the Planning Committee by claiming that the residential use had been abandoned. This false statement was made despite the Council’s own Head of Legal Services confirming that the use had not been abandoned.

In R. v Canterbury City Council ex parte Springimage JPL 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.

The original decision to demolish my home was wrong and therefore it follows that every action that the council has taken against me since, must be wrong. A public authority owes as great, if not a greater obligation, to comply with the law as any individual and I have sufficient evidence to show the Council acted unlawfully not only in demolishing my home in the first instance but also in all acts of enforcement action that have followed. There is case law to support this assertion, as does the Town & Country Planning Act, which is very clear and precise on this matter.

Every person is entitled to procedural fairness, but that will always depend on the integrity of the authority responsible for such procedures.

There is clear evidence that Dover Council have deprived me of my right to procedural fairness throughout the duration of this dispute but particularly so when they took the decision to demolish my home.

I did not establish a home without planning permission because that already lawfully existed and had done so for 56 years. Prior to the demolition I placed a mobile home adjacent to the bungalow so continuing, uninterrupted, the lawful residential use of the land.

Soon after Dover Council had demolished my home they erroneously took action to remove the mobile home that was legally sited. Subsequently they wrongfully issued an enforcement notice on the 27 February 1990, ordering its removal.

Due to the years of stress and extreme disruption to my family’s life leading up to the demolition of our home and the ongoing harassment and threat of litigation from the Council after the demolition, my family broke up. After my partner left I gave up the fight and moved away from the site. Up until that time I had neither the knowledge nor financial ability to fight the unlawful action that had been taken against me and it is now apparent the Council preyed on that fact.

Residential rating assessments continued to be issued until this day.

In my absence the site of my former home became a local rubbish tip and scrap vehicles accumulated on the land. It became an eyesore, an annoyance to local residents and the subject of further enforcement action, which required me as owner of the site to clear it even though this situation was a direct result of the council demolishing my home.

The property had been in continuous residential use for over 60 years when the Council demolished it and reduced the land to a rubbish tip. Tim Flisher from the Council’s planning department has since confirmed that residential use is the only lawful use ever ascribed to my property.

On 15th July 2002 I moved back to the site and began clearing all the scrap vehicles and the tons of rubbish that had accumulated, before restoring it to an attractive garden once more. I have continued to live there in a mobile home ever since with the full support of my neighbours but not the Council who are again wrongfully taking enforcement action against me.

On 28 February 2005 I submitted a planning application following advice from Tim Flisher the Council’s Development Control Manager but the dirty tricks…more

I became highly suspicious about the way in which the Council were dealing with my planning application so withdrew it on the 22 July 2005, before it was determined.

Soon after this I obtained a copy of the report that the case officer, Nikki Coles, had prepared for the Planning Committee. I was astounded when I read it as the officer’s report contained false statements, misleading information and was written in a biased way designed to ensure a refusal. At this point I decided to submit a complaint to the Professional…more

In 2006 I wrote to Gwyn Prosser, New Labour MP for Dover, asking for his support but soon discovered that…more

A few days before Christmas, 2008, four representatives from DDC visited… more



Full, lawful residential user rights existed when I bought my bungalow in 1984

The purchase was made in the usual way, employing the services of a local estate agent and a solicitor who carried out all the necessary searches and enquiries.

  • Selling Agents: James B. Terson & Son.
  • Vendor’s solicitor: Peter W. Sherred, Stilwell & Harby, Dover.
  • Purchaser’s solicitor: Jeremy R. Garner, Stilwell & Harby, Dover.
  • Search completed, signed and dated 21 May 1984 by Lesley Cumberland, Director of Legal and Administrative Services of Dover District Council.
  • Land Registry Title Number K257271. Tunbridge Wells Office.
  • Parish council: Lydden.
  • DDC Rating department, Reference number 04 135/6.

I first saw ‘The Bungalow’, as it was then called, advertised with James B. Terson & Son, Estate Agents, in April 1984. It was a small timber framed bungalow, typical of many others in the area, although most of them have now been replaced by much larger brick built properties. It was described as:

‘The Bungalow’, Warren Lane, Lydden, Nr Dover

A detached timber and corrugated bungalow with 1/3 acre.

Situated in this very rural position about 1 mile from the village of Lydden, approached along a picturesque country lane and situated on the left hand side of the road just past a property called “Little London”

Comprising a detached timber and corrugated bungalow with 6 rooms including bathroom and kitchen.

We believe that the property has a registered title and that the total area of ground amounts to approximately 1/3 acre. The frontage to Warren Lane is about 220 feet. It is triangular in shape. There is a cesspool on site and a well……etc

Rateable Value: £64.00

Price: Offers invited

Viewing: Keys with the Agents as above

The windows are boarded up and therefore it is necessary to take a torch.

I made an appointment with Tersons to view the bungalow and was met at the property by a lady who had the door keys to let me in and show me around. The lady explained that she didn’t actually work for Tersons but worked for another agent nearby and had been asked to show me around because she lived in the house opposite the bungalow and that arrangement was more convenient for the agent.

I agreed to purchase the bungalow and Tersons recommended a local firm of Solicitors, Stilwell & Harby, to act for me. It transpired that Stilwell & Harby were also acting for the vendor, Miss Dickinson, but they explained that was in order as long as two separate solicitors were involved in the transaction.

The two solicitors responsible were Jeremy R. Garner, who acted for me, and Peter W. Sherred, who acted for Miss Dickinson.

Mr Garner carried out all the usual searches including the Enquiries of District Councils, which 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 at this time the Council’s legal department ratified the existing, long-standing residential use.

As the solicitor acting for the vendor, Peter W. Sherred knows, the bungalow possessed full title and was in lawful residential use at the time the sale was completed. Peter W. Sherred was an experienced solicitor in public law and residential property conveyance, particularly so as before being employed at Stilwell & Harby, he was a solicitor with Dover District Council’s legal department.

The purchase of my bungalow was completed on the 15th June 1984 and Stilwell & Harby issued an invoice for charges for approving and completing contract, investigating title, preparing and completing Transfer on the purchase of my property, preparing and completing certified copy documents in respect of the registration of title under the Land Registration Act, Local Search fees and Land Charge search fee.  I was entirely satisfied with the service provided by Mr Garner.

Soon after moving in we changed its name to ‘The Oaks’ because of the fine mature English Oaks situated in the garden.


1985 Enforcement

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.