An application for change of use of a property from agricultural to residential was recently turned down because the applicant had deceived the Local Authority.
The applicant had bought land in the green belt and had successfully applied for planning permission to build a barn. The barn was then covertly converted into a house, although to outward appearances it still looked like a barn, and the applicant lived there in secret for four years. He then applied for a certificate of lawfulness of use of the building as a dwelling house on the basis that the building had been used for that purpose unchallenged for the four year period. The case came to court and it was found that the applicant’s conduct throughout had been calculated to mislead the council and to conceal his wrongdoing; albeit that he had done nothing illegal. The application for change of use was ultimately rejected.
There is a four-year statutory period which is designed to give a planning authority time to discover an unlawful building operation. However, deliberately misleading false statements by an owner successfully preventing discovery took this case outside the normal rationale.