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OTTERY: Former councillor could face legal action over farmhouse bid
Tuesday, 02 December 2014
GRAHAM BROWN WANTED TO REMOVE AGRICULTURAL?‘TIE’ ON OTTERY?PROPERTY
FURTHER legal action could be taken against disgraced former councillor Graham Brown, after East Devon District Council threw out his application to cut the agricultural ‘tie’ on his Ottery St Mary farm house.
The authority rejected Mr Brown’s request for a ‘certificate of lawfulness’ that would have allowed him to continue living at Ware Farm, on Chineway Hill, despite the original planning conditions restricting occupation to agricultural workers.
Former councillor Brown, who was exposed in a national newspaper sting last year claiming he could influence planning decisions in his capacity as a consultant, was seeking to exploit a loophole in the system to remove the tie.
He claimed that he had not been working mainly as a farmer for more than 10 years, and that the tie should no longer be enforced.
The application was criticised by Ottery councillors earlier this year, who wrote to EDDC spelling out their concerns with the evidence.
District council representative Roger Giles said the request was “totally outrageous” and warned that there were problems with the planning system.
But EDDC bosses have now dismissed the application and say they will consider further action against Mr Brown for breaching the original terms of the agreement.
A notice, issued by the council to Mr Brown’s agent last week, stated that officers were “not satisfied” that the evidence supported his case.
The notice read: “On the basis of information supplied in support of the application, held by the council and also provided during consideration of the application, the council is not satisfied of the lawfulness at the date of the application of the use specified in the application.”
A statement issued by EDDC following the decision added that council officers had carefully examined the evidence supplied by Mr Brown and by others.
But the council’s Chief Executive Mark Williams was ultimately satisfied that the recommendation was correct and the application should be refused.
The statement added: “The council will now be considering whether further action should be taken against Mr Brown for living in the farm house against the terms of the planning permission allowing it to be built.”
A police investigation into Mr Brown, following the allegations of misconduct made in a national newspaper last year, was finally dropped last month. Senior officers said they had conducted “robust and extensive” enquiries but found “insufficient” evidence to take the inquiry further.
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