Couple win fight with the Broads Authority to keep holiday cottage
- Credit: Archant
A Norfolk couple have won an expensive battle to keep a holiday cottage that they developed in their back garden.
Simon and Tricia Ciappara of Neatishead, near Wroxham, converted a shed into the holiday let and began receiving guests in February last year.
But they had not applied for planning permission and a few months later received a letter from the Broads Authority (BA) saying they were in contravention of various policies and should stop letting the cottage.
The couple put in a retrospective planning application, which was turned down by the authority. But a subsequent appeal to the Planning Inspectorate was successful.
Mr Ciappara said: 'This was an expensive and unnecessary process that could have been avoided. We spent the entire income from a year's let on defending the fact that we had done this.'
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After getting the letter he said they had approached the BA to say they would apply for retrospective planning permission. 'They told me straight out that it would be refused,' said Mr Ciappara. 'They would also not meet with us to discuss a way forward.
'Once I got over the shock of that I phoned them again to say we had bookings until the end of October and could we at least honour those to which they agreed. If they said yes to that, what was the problem in the first place?'
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He added: 'We had letters of support from our neighbours, the parish council, highways and even the local shop and pub.'
The application was turned down by the BA for various reasons including that there was not an 'overriding need for this development to be sited in this unsustainable location in a modest rural village with limited services and facilities and constrained accessibility'.
The Ciapparas then appealed the decision to the planning inspectorate, which overturned it in June.
They had argued that they were making use of an existing building, that tourists would support the village economy and the building would in no way impact on the special features and character of the Broads.
'This was done at a huge emotional and physical cost to us,' said Mr Ciappara. 'It was a traumatic experience to go through.'
See also: What is going on at the Broads Authority?
The Broads Authority responds
The Broads Authority said its planning department offered free advice and worked with applicants to help them submit 'informed applications'.
A spokesman said: 'In recent months we have seen some changes within the planning inspectorate which have resulted in a higher number of successful appeals. We use these appeal decisions to inform our future advice and application in much the same way that case law is used in the legal profession.
'In this particular case the decision did reflect the original advice that the retrospective planning application contravened planning policy. After considering the specific circumstances of this application during the appeal the planning inspector's conclusion was different. This alternative application of the policy is now considered by officers for similar applications when advising and making decisions.'