• EDDC planners reject former councillor’s planning application - and consider action against him

    26th November 2014 | News | Claire
  • http://www.exeterexpressandecho.co.uk/East-Devon-planning-officers-reject-councillor/story-24730506-detail/story.html

    A CONTROVERSIAL application by a former East Devon councillor to lift a restriction affecting the sale of his farmhouse, has been refused by East Devon District Council planning officers.

    But one of two councillors who called for the decision to be made in public, has slammed the ruling for its determination to be heard behind closed doors.

    Mr Brown – a planning consultant who resigned from the council last year after being caught on camera boasting that he could secure planning permission for a fee – wants to lift a condition which restricts the use of Ware Farm near Ottery St Mary to those employed in agriculture. This could mean the value of the house could increase.

    He applied for a certificate of lawfulness so he could continue living in the farmhouse, despite the original planning permission for the dwelling stating that it was for occupation only by someone mainly or last working in farming or agriculture.

    Mr Brown claimed that he had not been working there “mainly as a farmer” for more than 10 years and that, since he had been living in breach of the condition without the council’s knowledge, the agricultural tie cannot be enforced.

    But a council spokesperson confirmed that the application was refused because his evidence did not support his case.

    The council is now considering whether further action should be taken against Mr Brown for living in the farm house against the terms of the planning permission allowing it to be built in the first place.

    Officers submitted their recommendation to Chief Executive Mark Williams who ruled that officers had made the correct recommendation so it was not necessary to refer the matter to the Development Management Committee.

    Therefore a delegated decision was made by officers and a formal notice of refusal issued.

    But Ottery St Mary councillor of 20 years, Roger Giles, and ward member for Lympstone and Woodbury, Councillor Ben Ingham, had been demanding that consideration Mr Brown’s application should be heard by the committee, in public instead.

    Although welcoming the decision, Cllr Giles, said he had not been notified of the decision as the ward member.

    “Due to the level of public interest in this, I’m really unhappy it wasn’t determined in public,” he said. “It’s an affront to the principles of British justice, that justice isn’t only done, but is seen to be done.”

    Cllr Ingham, added: “It’s disappointing that the decision wasn’t heard in public, but the evidence surrounding the decision must be made public.”

    Ware Farm was recently advertised online for £1.55m on the property website Rightmove, but was withdrawn by the estate agents.

    The lifting of the restriction could mean the value of the house could increase, a meeting of Ottery St Mary Town Council meeting heard.

    Following the meeting of the planning committee, Ottery St Mary Town Council wrote to the district authority with their concerns regarding Mr Brown’s evidence including that it is “contradictory”.