'Discriminatory' - Man loses bid to live in his home 11 months a year

South Beach Road, Hunstanton

South Beach Road, in Hunstanton, is designated a coastal flood risk hazard zone - Credit: Chris Bishop

A homeowner's bid to live in his house 11 months a year has been rejected by councillors - despite being able to camp behind it.

Michael Burton's home on South Beach Road, Hunstanton, has been subject to a seasonal occupancy condition since it was built in 1967.

The condition limits occupation to April 1 - October 31, due to a risk of flooding along the low-lying road.

However, many of Mr Burton's neighbours have had the restriction increased to 11 months.

On Monday, Mr Burton called on West Norfolk Council to give him the same right, calling it an "indirectly discriminatory" act.

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Mr Burton argued Hunstanton had not seriously flooded since 1953 and thousands of homes had been built without the conditions.

He added that the environment agency's objections ignored new flood warning systems, which are meant to give two days warning for an extreme event and new flood defences.

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"We want Hunstanton regenerated into a thriving community, restricted occupation prevents this," said Michael Ruston, Hunstanton Town Councillor, supporting the application.

"All Mr Burton seeks is the same occupancy as applied to private residents in static caravans just 50 yards away.

"He can spend Christmas at Searles in a caravan just over his back fence yet he can't sleep in his own home." 

Councillor Terry Parish warned that if this application was accepted there would be a "snowball effect" of similar applications.

Mr Parish said it would be logical for all the properties to have reduced occupancy but acknowledged rules had changed and they could not alter passed decisions.

Vivienne Spikings, the chair of the committee added: "We have new policies in place, we know more, we have rising seas.

"I have sympathy but we have to look at the bigger picture."

The application was rejected nine votes to eight.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Burton argued the decision was discriminatory under the 2010 equality act and lacked common sense.

"The measures put in place were stated to give two days notice of predicted extreme weather events. 

"Do planning officers really think anyone would be so stupid as to ignore the warnings should they occur?"

Mr Burton said he could stay in his home 12 months a year if he decided to sleep in a tent in the garden.

He will be appealing the decision.

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