Small Woodland Owners' Group

!!!Urgent Help Needed!!!

Paperwork, grants, legal issues

Postby Gugg » Fri Nov 18, 2011 10:25 am

Hi,


I own a piece of woodland (1 acre) it is almost a mile from the nearest road.


I have had a caravan on it for 2 months or so and have just received a letter from the council telling me that as I do not have permission to store a caravan on it I have 28 days to have it removed.


I have a 'nasty neighbour' who must have reported it. (He bought my parents old cottage at the top of the wood, tore it down and built a modern monster).


It is for me to stay in when I tidy the wood which is in a bad state, I would be there for less than 28 nights a year as I live 150 or so miles away. My intention is to also try and coppice. The land I have was lived on for 60 or so years by a man who used a shack. (See www.downthehut.co.uk for more details).


What can I do????


Peter


Gugg
 
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Postby Gugg » Fri Nov 18, 2011 12:32 pm

This is what I plan to send to the council - any comments gratefully received...


Dear Mr XXXX


I received a letter today regarding the caravan on my land in XXX Wood, XXXXX, advising me that I need to remove it within 28 days, as I do not have planning permission to store it there.


I am under the impression that provided the caravan is not for residential use it does not fall within planning controls.


From http://www.woodlands.co.uk/buying-a-wood/planning-and-woodlands.php "Provided the caravan is not for residential use, it falls completely outside planning controls, and you do not need to ask the planning authority in advance. According to the Caravan Sites Act 1968, the legal definition of a caravan includes mobile homes and self-built structures. Under this definition, there is no necessity for the caravan to have wheels, as long as it is under the size limit (60 feet long, 20 feet wide and 10 feet high), can be delivered in no more than two sections by lorry, and is capable of being moved in one piece along a road when assembled."


I should point out that I have no intention of living in the caravan, but would use it to stay in when I visit my wood in order to manage it. This would be for much less than the permitted 28 nights per year. I live some 150 miles away and so more frequent visits are not practicable.


I have a long familiar relationship with this land and am in the process of writing up the diaries of Mr XXXX a man who lived in this piece of wood for more than 50 years. His hut is still standing. I have enclosed a press cutting about his life.


I have a good relationship with two long-standing neighbours Mr XXXX (XXXX Cottage) and Mrs XXXX (XXXX XXXX Farm) and have their full support in having the caravan there.


The letter also requires me to remove rubbish from the site. There is no rubbish on site. I can only imagine that the person who has reported the caravan to you is referring to the carpets I have laid out in order to kill off the nettles and brambles that are choking the trees. In the spring these covers will be removed to allow plants more advantageous to the ecology of the wood.


I truly appreciate the importance of protecting the woodland and look forward to coming to a solution with you that is in the best interests of the wood and it’s animal inhabitants.


Gugg
 
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Postby wrekin » Fri Nov 18, 2011 12:57 pm

First of all, is this just a letter or does it say it's an enforcement notice? It's illegal to breach an enforcement notice, but you can appeal it and that stops the clock until the appeal process is exhausted.


http://www.fieldtofarm.com/forum/ has a lot of posts from people who are trying to negotiate the planning system, although their emphasis is on people trying to live on small holdings and farms. Much of what they do involves caravans at some point. You can read all the posts there by joining the site: you only need to buy the book to be able to post questions.


As you've noted, you can keep a caravan on site as storage for forestry equipment without planning permission.


You can also stay in a caravan on site 'for less than a year' while doing forestry work.


For the duration of carrying out building work (ie your shed) you can also stay in a caravan on site.


Btw, your forestry worker's shed with its history of use as a dwelling, has a lot of possibilities in itself as I'm sure you're aware.


http://hutters.uk - Woods, huts, cabins, sheds, forestry
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Postby Gugg » Fri Nov 18, 2011 1:25 pm

Thanks for the link Wrekin.


It is just an initial letter, it mentions that if I do not comply within 28 days then 'it is likely enforcement action will be taken'.


My concern about arguing there is already a dwelling on site in the form of the hut is that it has been empty for some 25 years and is in a BAD state of repair - http://www.downthehut.co.uk/?p=89


Would they argue it is no longer a dwelling as has been uninhabitable for so long?


Gugg
 
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Postby Emma S » Fri Nov 18, 2011 2:50 pm

I would be tempted to have a look into the viability of that hut!! lucky you!!


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Postby Meadowcopse » Mon Nov 21, 2011 7:45 am

Why does fate place problem neighbours where they are such a pain?

I'd certainly look into the hut - photograph it in detail and in it's setting, try to find if it is on any maps and plans and establish a date and if possible any archive material showing it in use or even a postal address?.

Don't knock it down or risk it being damaged. You need to gather as much factual evidence for 'established use'

For background also get together some documentation on coppicing and sustainable woodland management - particularly FC and EN publications and try to arrange an on-site visit from a planning officer. Have some details of an identically sized wooden hut that you could consider putting up as replacement / repair. Up here on the edge of Chester I could show you a 1 acre plot that had an almost identical hut, now tastefully landscaped in a woodland setting with a large bungalow - planning breezed through without additional brown envelopes changing hands.

If you are really fortunate and suggest things well, there is an optimistic chance that the hut could allow you something beyond the caravan option. (I'm guessing that you don't particularly wish to develop the site though)?


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Postby Gugg » Mon Nov 21, 2011 10:32 am

Hi Meadowcopse,

Thanks for the feedback. I've changed the letter slightly (the one I have just sent is detailed below). The hut is shown on the land registry maps, so it may be a possibility to rebuild/repair it. I am trying to leave options open and trying to present myself as reasonable as possible. Ironically the person who I believe has reported the caravan was fined for fly tipping all the rubble from the demolished remains of my parents house into the wood when he built his house.

Thanks again...


Dear Mr XXX,


I received a letter today regarding the caravan on my land in XXX Wood, XXX, XXX advising me that I need to remove it within 28 days, as I do not have planning permission to store it there. I have left you a telephone message but thought I should also write to you.


My understanding is that provided the caravan is not for residential use it does not fall within planning controls.


I have no intention of living in the caravan, but would use it to stay in when I visit my wood in order to manage it and to maintain the dwelling that has been on site for some 80 years. This would be for much less than the permitted 28 nights per year. I live some 150 miles away and have a full time job so more frequent visits are not practicable. The caravan is some 300 metres from the nearest road and is not visible from any direction unless viewed from within a few feet.


I have a long familiar relationship with this wood. My great grandfather was it’s gamekeeper (living in XXX Cottage), my great uncle lived in what was XXX Cottage and my grandmothers ashes are scattered there. The land was passed from Mr XXX, to my great uncle, to my parents and then to me. I am in the process of writing up the diaries of Mr XXX a man who lived in the dwelling for more than 50 years. I have enclosed a press cutting about his life. His hut is still standing and is shown on the Land Registry map (extract attached). I think it is of historical importance that the hut is protected from collapse.


I have an excellent relationship with two long-standing neighbours Mr XXX (KXXXeepers Cottage) and Mrs XXX (XXX XXX Farm) and have their full support in having the caravan there.


The letter also requires me to remove rubbish from the site. There is no rubbish on site. I can only imagine that the person who has reported the caravan to you is referring to the carpets I have laid out in order to kill off the nettles and brambles that are choking the trees. In the spring these covers will be removed to allow plants more advantageous to the ecology of the wood to thrive. Indeed I have taken it upon myself to remove rubbish (broken plastic toys, rubble and drink cans) that have been dumped nearby by others, they are a danger to the animals, particularly the deer that live in the wood.


I fully appreciate the importance of protecting the woodland and look forward to coming to a solution with you that is in the best interests of both the wood and it’s animal inhabitants.


Gugg
 
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Postby Henrietta » Mon Nov 21, 2011 7:54 pm

It would certainly be worth looking into whether or not there is still some residential right on the hut. As to the caravan, I don't think you can be forced to move it, but at the same time you can't sleep in it. If you were to say it was just being stored in the wood, I think the council have no powers to have it removed, although they will tell you otherwise. The twenty eight days, or rather nights, seems to relate to sleeping in a tent. I know if you have a woodland shed, you cannot sleep in it.

A woodland neighbour of ours built a straw bale house and as expected, the council went to great lengths to evict them and pull down the house, however, there is also a caravan there which is just used as storage and the council are not able to have it removed.


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Re: !!!Urgent Help Needed!!!

Postby Chunkymunky » Thu Feb 21, 2013 7:58 pm

Chunkymunky
 
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Re: !!!Urgent Help Needed!!!

Postby tracy » Mon Mar 04, 2013 7:35 pm

Yeah, be good to hear the update on this, and be careful of the above info - it might be out of date. not saying it is, but it might be...
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