High Court orders Nidderdale couple to tear down £100,000 barn

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A High Court judge has ordered a couple to tear down their £100,000 barn after ruling they sought to manipulate the planning process.

Landowners Geoffrey and Ann Crossland built the barn on Meagill Lane in Blubberhouses despite Harrogate Borough Council’s repeated warnings about the lack of planning permission.

Setting out what he said was the Crosslands’ “reprehensible” conduct, Mr Justice Coulson said: “After four previous rejections of what was, to all intents and purposes, the same barn, the defendants again gave notice of their intention to carry out what they claimed was permitted agricultural development.”

The couple sent notice to Harrogate Borough Council with £45 when the correct fee was £50. Despite the underpayment the council notified Mr and Mrs Crossland prior approval for the development was required.

Days later the couple sent the missing £5 with an almost identical letter. The council did not repeat what it had said leading the couple to claim it was only sending the additional £5 which validated their original application, meaning the council’s earlier notification was regarding an invalid application.

Rejecting the couple’s case, the judge said that they had sought to play the system and they took a clear and calculated risk in going ahead with the construction of the barn.

Mr Crossland claims it will cost a further £40,000 to demolish the barn. “I do believe the council planning department has an inflexible approach to the changing needs of its local inhabitants, businesses and farmers like myself.”

Councillor Alan Skidmore, Cabinet Member for Planning, Transport and Economic Development, said he was pleased at the decision. “The Judge has sent a clear message to all, that playing the planning system will not be tolerated.”