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[appeal against the enforcement order to remove the caravan and attached timber annex]
Dear Mrs. Nethell,
Please find below our full statement of case. In what follows, "we" refers to the appellant (myself) and family.
Tir Penrhos Isaf is a registered agricultural holding with a county parish holding number of 53/237/135. We, as a family, have been involved with a variety of agricultural and forestry activities on the site since 1986. The caravan was purchased and established on the site in that year with the purpose of providing a variety of uses.
These uses included the following:
Due to the relative isolation of the holding and the fact that it has no immediate neighbours, the caravan also provided the opportunity to install a telephone. The site does not receive mobile phone signals so a land line telephone is essential in case of emergencies.
The caravan and timber annexe have been effectively screened with a combination of native trees and conifers to minimise their visual impact on the landscape.
Temporary planning permission was granted on 26th July 1991 to use the caravan as a dwelling for an agricultural worker and family (application no. NP5/60/7B) and we have been resident on site since then to the present day.
The caravan has thus been in its current position for over sixteen years and during that time, no objections or complaints whatsoever have been made. On the contrary, the local community council has consistently supported all applications for renewal of the temporary permission and those for permanent permission.
The holding comprises of a number of interrelated businesses. These include agriculture, silvaculture, horticulture, conservation, education and equine.
Educational aspects relate to the teaching of permaculture design through courses held on the holding and is documented in the initial application in 1991 (application no. NP5/60/7B). Students were accommodated on site as campers (through the 28 day rule) or off site in local bed and breakfast establishments. Practical and theoretical activities take place on the holding and the caravan is essential as a place for them to dry off and get warm during wet or cold weather
Equine activities have taken place since 1986 and were recognised formally by the Snowdonia National Park Authority in 2002 by the granting of permission for stables and round pen (application number NP5/60/7H). Clients’ horses are accommodated on site for training purposes and the caravan is essential for interviewing clients and providing them with refreshments. As clients receive training in the handling and riding of their horses, they may well be working in inclement weather and hence a place to get warm and dry is also essential.
It should be considered that the Authority’s refusal to grant permission for a permanent dwelling rests on a technicality, that is, that the training of horses is not considered to be agricultural use. When the sum of all yields from Tir Penrhos Isaf is considered, the holding is viable and the fact that it receives no agricultural grants or subsidies, more viable than even substantially larger holdings.
It is only recently that the equine industry has been recognised to be one of the largest rural industry, larger than farming in many areas. This has been reflected in Planning Authorities being asked to consider relaxing controls relating to equine businesses.
5.GROUNDS AND FACTS
(c) That there has not been a breach of planning control
Tir Penrhos Isaf is a registered agricultural holding and as such the siting of a caravan on the land is both ancillary to and essential to the normal operations of an isolated rural holding. These including the following:
Any breach of planning control relates to the residential use of the caravan rather than the existence of the caravan on site. The removal of the caravan would seriously impede the effective operation of the holding.
(f) The steps required to comply with the requirements of the notice are excessive, and lesser steps would overcome the objections.
By requiring the removal of the caravan and attached timber annexe, the enforcement order seeks to deny the appellant the opportunity to effectively carry out the normal duties relating to the running of an agricultural holding.
The essential uses of the caravan have been outlined above and are repeated below:
Lesser steps would be to provide realistic time limits to annual occupancy rather than seek the complete removal of the caravan and attached timber annexe. This would allow at least some of the operations of the holding to continue.
The Authority could also consider the granting of a further temporary permission for occupancy to continue in order to allow the opportunity for further dialogue and the submission of another application for permanent permission.
(g) The time given to comply with the notice is too short.
The Authority has suggested that it would be possible for the appellant to operate the holding without occupancy. However, this is not the case. As the Authority has itself pointed out, a substantial aspect of the business of the holding is equine based, related to the training and retraining of clients’ horses. Clients’ horses stay on the holding from, on average, between four and six weeks at a time. This operation continues throughout the year and there is normally at least one client’s horse in residence.
The Authority has acknowledged and supported the equine elements of the holding by giving planning permission for the stables and associated training pen (initially temporary on 16/08/00 application no. NP5/60/7E and subsequently permanent in 2002, application number NP5/60/7H)
However, the operation of an equine business, such as the training of clients’ horses, requires 24 hour supervision. There have been occasions where we have had to call vets out in the middle of the night to treat clients’ animals. Clearly, clients would not wish to leave their often very valuable animals in situations where round the clock supervision was not provided as a matter of course.
Thus, should the appeal fail it will be necessary for the appellant to relocate the business, find suitable alternative land with accommodation and apply for the necessary planning permission for the siting of stables and training pen. Given the current prices of property locally and the fact that we have invested time, much of our youth and our limited funds in our holding, finding a suitable alternative site would be unlikely.
Further, the appellant and family have now been managing and occupying the holding for over sixteen years. Leaving the site will require extensive redesign of the holding to allow management from occasional visits. A large amount of equipment and resources will need to be either sold or relocated. This process could take a considerable period of time.
In an enforcement order against Brithdir Mawr (details) the occupants were given 18 months to find alternative accommodation. This time period was given even though there was existing alternative accommodation on the same site. This is not the case at Tir Penrhos Isaf where no alternative accommodation exists on site or nearby.
It may be argued that we have had sufficient time to find alternative accommodation but this is not the case. Apart from the fact that the holding represents our primary source of income, we have maintained our activities and developed them in advance of further planning applications and, if necessary, appeals.
Hence in the situation at Tir Penrhos Isaf, a time period giving at least two years to comply with the requirements of the enforcement order would be more realistically achievable.
Chris, Lyn and Sam Dixon
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