Thorpe St Andrew house boat couple’s fight to save their home

A Norwich couple who have been told to dismantle their floating holiday home because it is not a boat will now take their fight to the high court.

Peter and Jane Collins have lost an appeal against the Broads Authority which are trying to have the two-storey home removed for breaching planning laws.

But the pair, who were served an enforcement notice last year, claim that because their home floats it is a boat and the Broads Authority had changed the rules.

They are concerned the planning decision will set a precedent for other people living on house boats around the country.

The 6m-high structure has been built on a steel and mud barge in an area of the town where development is unlikely to be acceptable. Superstructures on boats do not require planning permission.

The pair bought the plot of land on Thorpe Island in Thorpe St Andrew four years ago.

They spent three months building the holiday home out of reclaimed timber and it is now moored in a cut of land next to the island.

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Mr Collins, 55, said: 'We came here to get away and have a peaceful life.'

He said it floats at high tide and although there is no engine, there are propellers and an engine can be fitted.

'If they get away with it then it would apply to everybody in the country.', he said. 'I believe everybody should be allowed to do what they want to do. We are not harming anybody.'

The structure is directly opposite the Rushcutters pub and next to the railway line out of Norwich.

The inspector's report said the work did not include provision of any propulsion and there was a 'notable absence of the equipment one might expect to find on a boat or vessel intended for navigation.'

He later added that the height and bulk of the structure compromised its ability to navigate and its 'unwieldy nature' suggested it could only be manoeuvred with some difficulty.

'Overall, I share the authority's view that the appeal structure is not a boat or vessel,' he said. 'The fact that the structure is capable of floating and of being moved (as I saw at the site visit) does not imply that it is immune from normal planning controls.'

Do you have a planning story for the Evening News? Contact Annabelle Dickson on 01603 772426 or e-mail