Planning bid branded ‘seriously misleading’

Councillor Graham Brown.

Councillor Graham Brown. - Credit: Archant

Civic leaders in Ottery St Mary have written to the district council expressing concern about ‘contradictory evidence’ given in a planning application by ex-councillor Graham Brown.

The former deputy leader of East Devon District Council (EDDC) has applied for a ‘certificate of lawfulness’ for his home at Ware Farm after occupying the property in breach of a planning condition for more than a decade.

The condition, which was attached to the property in 2000, states that the house can only be occupied by someone who is ‘solely or mainly’ working the farm.

Evidence submitted by Mr Brown states that his farming work was slowly phased out after 2002 as his ‘other activities and commercial interests took precedence’.

And because EDDC has taken no enforcement action against the breach for more than 10 years, planning law says the owner can apply for the new use to become legal.

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Ottery council’s planning committee met on Monday to consider any information that ‘supports or contradicts’ the evidence submitted.

At the meeting, Tony Green, from campaign group the East Devon Alliance, described the application as ‘seriously misleading in a number of very important ways’.

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He said that documents submitted with previous planning applications by Mr Brown in 2005 and 2008 clearly stated that animals were kept on the farm.

Mr Green said that in Mr Brown’s EDDC ‘declaration of interests’ for 2012/13 he stated farming as one of his vocations.

He added: “Mr Brown is obviously trying to give the impression that his farming activities over the last 10 years have been so insignificant that the planning condition should be lifted.”

Councillor Jessica Bailey said: “I’m concerned about the contradictory evidence that seems to have come forward, and I’m concerned about the actual evidence itself.”

Cllr Ian Holmes added: “I think it is obvious we are concerned about the evidence.

“What we have here does not suit the fact that he hasn’t been farming - it actually quite clearly states that there is stock on the farm in the various [paperwork] for [previous] applications.”

The committee agreed to write to EDDC’s planning department expressing their concerns.

A final decision on the application will be made by the district council.

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