An ex-councillor has been fined 12 years after he demolished a listed farm building at his home and replaced it with a new property.
Greg Cropper, 62, was found to have made illegal changes to his rural home in 2008, breaching planning permission rules. He was fined £1,500 with a £150 surcharge, and also ordered to pay costs of £1,448.33.
The unauthorised building work only came to light when Mr Cropper applied to change the use of a listed farm building at his property to a dwelling. When a listed building inspector at Kirklees Council visited the property, he discovered a much newer building than expected.
Mr Cropper had submitted a prior application to turn the original farm building into a residential property. When this was refused, he had it demolished and rebuilt instead.
The action went unreported for more than a decade due to the farm’s rural location and no reports of the demolition from neighbours.
This building work, Kirklees Council ruled, was unauthorised, as was the extension of another property on the same site that had not received planning permission.
Mr Cropper, who was formerly chairman of Holme Valley Parish Council West Yorkshire, was taken to court where he admitted the planning breaches.
Clr Rob Walker, the council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, said of the prosecution: “Taking action in this instance, despite the time that had passed between the act and its discovery, shows just how seriously we take the protection of listed buildings.”
Planning Permission: Plan Ahead
This case highlights the potential risks when you undergo a build project without planning permission, and the steep fines that can be imposed.
While it is possible to apply for retrospective planning permission, it is always advisable to secure approval before the work begins.
Should your planning application be rejected, remember that it doesn’t have to be a death knell for your project. The planners may suggest changes that need to occur in order for it to be approved, and you can subsequently apply again.
If no changes are suggested in a council’s rejection, the matter can be taken to appeal where around 40% of householder applications that are refused are later granted.
Earlier this year it was revealed that 40 retrospective planning applications are made each day, and the majority are approved.