It’s a ‘no’ to The Good Life!

Home Sweet Home for Mr and Mrs Firth
Home Sweet Home for Mr and Mrs Firth

A couple’s dream lifestyle is at risk after planners gave them 12 months to vacate their accommodation.

David and Maxine Firth gained planning permission for a stable block on land off Hambleton Drive, Mixenden, Halifax.

They started work in summer 2008 which has included laying a hard-surfaced access and the re-routing of land drainage.

But, later that year Mr Firth had a nervous breakdown and Mrs Firth was made redundant.

The resulting financial hardship led to them selling-up and renting back the land and moving into a caravan on site.

Storage containers were positioned at each side of the caravan and Mr Firth said he enclosed the structure with timber roofing sheets for added security.

Outside, the agricultural land is being used for the keeping of livestock. There is also a small vegetable plot and fencing.

But, Calderdale council officers objected to developments on planning grounds and an enforcement notice has been upheld by a planning inspector.

Mr and Mrs Firth are now in discussions with the council in the hope of reaching a satisfactory solution.

He is slowly regaining his health and they hope if the deadline was extended to two years that would enable them to complete the original project.

Then the containers which house tools and machinery, could be removed and the couple, who pay rates, would look to reach agreement on accommodation having got attached to the lifestyle of having a smallholding.

“We are still trying to resolve the situation. We would like to stop, but we fear losing our home and that’s not doing us any good,” said Mr Firth.

Planners say the couple breached planning controls with the unauthorised change of use of the land from agriculture to mixed use for agriculture, the siting of a caravan for residential purposes and the siting and storage of containers on the land. Planning inspector Ahsan Ghafoor ruled that the enforcement notice should be upheld and the couple’s appeals should not succeed. He said they failed, on the balance of probabilities, to show the matters alleged in the notice did not constitute a breach of planning control. Given the personal circumstances of Mr and Mrs Firth he said a reasonale period should be given for them to find alternative accommodation but two years is too excessive and 12 months would strike the appropriate balance.