Couple’s bid to save their home from demolition fails

The High Court in London. Picture: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

The High Court in London. Picture: Steve Parsons/PA Wire - Credit: PA

A couple's long-running battle to save their home from being demolished has ended in failure at London's High Court.

David and Ann Usher pleaded with Deputy Judge Natalie Lieven QC with to over-ride Forest Heath District Council's demolition order and allow their home at Small Fen Farm, Brandon to remain standing.

Instead, she dismissed their challenge and ruled that the council had 'not erred' in taking its decision.

In a complex judgment running to over 7,000 words, she said the history of the case was a lengthy one dating back to 2012, when the council issued an enforcement notice ordering demolition of the property and removal of all material from the site on the basis that it had been built without planning consent.

However in September 2014, with the house still in place, the Ushers submitted an application for temporary planning consent for five years.

They applied on the basis that changes of planning policy might take place in the area and also that the medical condition of Mr Usher's mother, who was in poor health, should be taken into consideration.

That application was refused but the battle dragged on until in January this year, when the council issued an ultimatum that they intended to move in and demolish the property on January 30.

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Three days before the deadline though, a High Court judge put everything on legal hold by granting the Ushers consent to take their challenge to the High Court.

Lawyers for the Ushers argued, among other things, that the council had committed a legal errors in the way they had handled the matter.

They also claimed that the demolition plan was 'disproportionate and unreasonable' and that the move to carry it out was 'unlawful and unfair'. It was also argued that there was failure on the part of the council to consider alternative moves.

However, Deputy Judge Lieven rejected all the arguments.

She said she did not consider the stance of the council was procedurally unfair. Nor did she think the council's refusal to extend a dead-line was 'irrational or disproportionate.'

And she said she considered the council decision on the action they intended had been 'entirely clear and properly communicated'.

'I do not think the Council erred in law in not taking any other steps before proceeding with direct action,' she said.