10 years on and Fernando can call The Pod his home after East Cambs Council agrees ‘on balance of probability’ he’s lived there for 10 years

The Pod at Little Downham is now legal after a certificate was issued by East Cambs Council. They ru

The Pod at Little Downham is now legal after a certificate was issued by East Cambs Council. They ruled that on the grounds of probability Fernando Gris has lived there for 10 years and so is excluded from any potential legal threat. Picture; PLANSURV LTD - Credit: Archant

Council bosses have accepted “on the balance of probability” that a village home has been lived in for longer than 10 years and so planning consent is no longer an issue.

East Cambridgeshire District Council has given Fernando Gris a certificate of lawful development for The Pod in Third Drove, Little Downham.

Planning officers explained that the criterion used by Mr Gris was within the Planning and Compensation Act 1991 that sets out procedures in such cases.

“The evidence submitted proves that on the balance of probability the site and property known as The Pod has been in continued use for more than ten years without

planning permission as one single residential dwelling,” they concluded.

“This satisfies the legal tests in establishing the four and ten year rule respectively for immunity against the local planning authority from taking enforcement action and the development is therefore considered to be lawful.

“Based on the balance of probabilities and given the above and evidence submitted as part of this application we believe it is clear that the site and property were in residential use in December 2008 which is over ten years ago.”

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Agents for Mr Gris applied to regularise his living arrangements after moving into the property more than 10 years ago.

“Mr Gris and his wife occupied the property immediately upon its installation and lived there whilst they carried out a short period of internal refurbishment,” says their agent PlanSurv Ltd.

They said Mr Gris occupied the property from early December 2008 when it was already substantially complete and fit for habitation.

“He carried out some internal improvements whilst living there, they claimed”.

The company provided the council with aerial photographic evidence and witnesses from a number of people testifying that Mr Gris been there for more than 10 years.

Officers felt the application met the requirements of planning law to enable them to now agree it could be given a certificate to verify the property was legal.

One statement from Paul Russell confirmed that Mr Griss has been there for 10 years – and Janette Owen confirmed his residency of at least eight years.

Alan Parkinson confirmed in his statutory declaration the duration of the time Mr Gris had lived there.

“Mr Parkinson was involved in the construction of the property as he completed some initial ground works and service connection, so is well acquainted with the property,” said planning officers in their report..

A statutory declaration was also obtained from Angela Walton who confirmed the building has been occupied and completed for at least ten years.

“The submitted dated photographs document that the property was on the site in 2011,” concluded planners.

“There is no photography available between 2004 and 2011 to demonstrate that the property was there at the end of 2008, however these photographs do show that it has been there for over seven years.

“The extent of planting which has grown over the property adds strength to the claim that the property has been in place now for a considerable period”.