A man who built a barn and transformed the inside into a luxury home against planning rules has been told to strip it back to its intended use.
An appeal hearing before a Government appointed planning inspector heard David Bonsall had renovated and kept the building in a ‘clandestine manner’ to disguise its use as a home.
He first applied to Rotherham Council to build a dwelling on land off Common Lane, Thorpe Salvin, in 1988. It was refused but a subsequent appeal decision granted permission for a barn, not a dwelling.
A complex web of planning applications and refusals followed. And in 2012 his application for ‘existing use as a dwelling’ was refused.
But it alerted the authorities that the barn was being lived in.
What they found, screened from public view behind a shroud of woodland, hedging and high gates, was a windowless luxury home with three bedrooms and four bathrooms.
“Mr Bonsall knew he needed planning permission to use the barn as a dwelling and knew it was unlikely to be granted,” said planning inspector Brian Rogers.
“...as an intelligent, well-qualified and inventive man, it is highly likely that he developed a strategy for minimising his risk that his residential use of the building would be discovered.”
The hearing heard that Mr Bonsall never registered the property with a postal address, for Council Tax or onto the electoral roll.
It is thought building work was done at night and he did not install water or electricity supplies, instead sharing with the adjacent stables.
Visitors to the barn were even asked to park half a mile away at the village pub, so as not to attract attention.
The inspector upheld Rotherham Council’s notice that Mr Bonsall must cease residential use and remove all domestic fixtures and fittings within 26 weeks.
A council spokesman said: “Planning regulations are there for a reason.”
“We believe this was an underhand way of obtaining residential accommodation within the green belt.”
Mr Bonsall declined to comme