Bid to resolve 22-year planning wrangle

Two decades on: Paul Warren by the footings he prepared for a barn
Two decades on: Paul Warren by the footings he prepared for a barn

A MAN from Itchingfield is hoping more than two decades of misery can be put to rest after Horsham District Council agreed to meet him in a bid to resolve long-standing planning issues.

Paul Warren, of Bailings, Fulfords Hill, has been in a 22-year-long battle with the council over alleged mistakes in the advice he was given over planning matters.

But now, after the council refused him permission to build a two-bedroom house at Fulfords Hill, he hopes this meeting will put past problems behind him.

It comes after Peter Rowlinson (Con, Slinfold, Itchingfield and Warnham) spoke at this month’s development control north committee meeting.

He said: “If there’s been a problem that has existed over many years, that needs to be subject to a separate meeting - not a planning meeting - with suitable officers and members to understand and work out what does or doesn’t need to be done about the problems which have accrued.”

The aim of this, he said should be ‘to see if we can understand, investigate and resolve issues that have clearly troubled Mr Warren over a number of years and have clearly not been put to bed’.

Mr Rowlinson called the current application for a two-bedroom dwelling a ‘black and white’ issue.

He said: “We have a very explicit policy that we do not permit new builds in the countryside area. It’s been enforced over many years and we have very good reasons for that. We are the guardians of our countryside.”

But Mr Warren says he and his family have been in a ‘time warp’ since 1987 when he first received permission to alter his existing house and build a barn adjacent to his property. The footings he prepared for the barn, where he planned to build the two-bedroom house, still lay there today.

Since then he says numerous letters which he, his solicitors and architects have written to the council have gone unanswered, leading to confusion and stress on his family’s part.

Mr Warren hopes all his concerns will be addressed. He said: “I have had 22 years of this, I want compensation and for the council to admit it is liable. We have been in a time warp since 1987. It has destroyed our family’s life.

“I would like to see an investigation carried out. It should be an independent report and not done by the council.”

He also alleges that the council instructed him to renovate his 16th century Grade II listed home with green oak, which shrinks as time goes on.

He said he ‘wasn’t happy’ using green oak, but said he was told if he used anything but green oak he would have the listed building consent taken.

“As a layman I thought if I didn’t do what was instructed I could get a hefty fine or put in prison.”

Today he lives with a plastic sheet protecting one side of his home from leaks.

Horsham District Council confirmed Mr Warren had been in contact with them and the head of planning Rod Brown will be arranging a meeting with him.

What do you think of the council’s planning system? Leave your comments below.