A man who has been living in a horsebox on a country estate near Billingshurst could be about to spend Christmas on the streets after being forced to find a new home.
Steve Tremmel has been living in a converted horsebox on land at Coolham Manor, with permission from the landowner, for the past five-years.
However, Horsham District Council is set to evict the 51-year-old after serving him with an enforcement notice.
Steve has been fighting the notice for the past two years and has expressed his anger over the council’s decision.
He said: “They (the council) think it’s more acceptable for me to be on the streets than be in a horsebox that has been converted.
“I am not being a drag on society or anyone. I keep the place clean and tidy, I don’t leave rubbish everywhere. I am feeling so frustrated, there is no sort of morality in this.”
Steve said he used to live in Chichester with his wife before they moved abroad. After the pair divorced he moved into the horsebox, around five years ago.
He explained he didn’t earn enough from his job as a care and support worker for vulnerable adults to be able to afford a house in the area and felt the council needed to look at the problem of affordable housing.
He said: “I feel what I have been doing was proactive, trying to sort out a problem which the Government and the councils aren’t addressing which is the homeless problem.
“For me the biggest concern is there is a real housing crisis. I don’t want and feel I should not have to work 50, 60, 70 hours a week just to pay for a roof over my head because that’s what is going to happen.”
He added he didn’t want to give up his job due to the vulnerability of the people he cares for.
“I live affordably but I feel if I am forced out on the streets I will have to give up my job. It was never the long term plan to be living in it for the rest of my life but it was a means to an end.
“I just want to live quietly and not have any problems or cause any problems.”
A spokesman for Horsham District Council said: “The Council served an enforcement notice on 29 July 2016 for the ‘unauthorised stationing of a vehicle for residential purposes’ as a new residential use in the countryside which is contrary to planning policy.
“The owner of the land appealed the enforcement notice to the Planning Inspectorate. Their decision on 16 August 2017 was that the appeal be dismissed and the enforcement notice upheld. The occupier of the horse box was required to leave the land by 16 February 2018. Given the significant timescales involved, the Council is of the view that more than sufficient time has been given and the Council has been clear on its position, which has been upheld by the Planning Inspectorate.
“The terms of the enforcement notice have still not been met and the Council is pursuing prosecution proceedings for non-compliance with the enforcement notice. During this time the Council has been pro-active and met with the landowner to try and resolve this matter and the occupier of the horsebox has been made aware of the Council’s housing services.”