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WOODLAND HOME IS NOT A 'HOUSE', RULES JUDGE

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A High Court judge today refused to rule that a one-room shack in a Cotswolds wood, with no running water or toilet...
A High Court judge today refused to rule that a one-room shack in a Cotswolds wood, with no running water or toilet facilities, was a 'house' in the eyes of the law.

'It simply did not have the physical attributes of a 'dwellinghouse',' said Mr Justice McCombe.

The ruling came after Stephen Grendon, who has lived in the building at 'Hermit's Corner', Brimpsfield, since September 2002, challenged a government inspector's refusal to grant planning consent for the place he calls home.

In court earlier this month lawyers for Grendon argued that in the light of a recent House of Lords ruling that a hotel room can legally be classed as a 'dwelling house', so to should Grendon's humble abode.

The 4.25 metre by 5.8 metre building in question does boast a wood burning stove for heating, a butane gas hob for cooking and a surface for food preparation.

Formerly a simple stone shelter which was re-roofed in 1982 and then had a wooden veranda and shutters added later, it has a monopitch roof of corrugated sheets, a small window under the eaves and, comparatively recently, a window with shutters was installed.

Electricity has also been connected, there is a sleeping platform at one end, and the walls are largely filled with shelving containing books, CDs and other possessions.

All the building now lacks is running water, a bathroom or a toilet. During the hearing the court was told that Grendon draws water from a spring on the edge of the common for washing and drinking, and digs holes in the wood for toilet purposes.

Dismissing Grendon's appeal for the case to be sent back to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government for the matter to be re-considered, Mr Justice McCombe said today that the inspector whose decision had been challenged had been unable to find that the building constituted a 'dwellinghouse.'

And it could not be turned into one by the mere fact that Grendon was living there, e added.

'In my judgment, the inspector was entitled to find as he did on the evidence before him and, in reaching that conclusion, he properly directed himself in law. This claim is accordingly dismissed,' he said.

The gvernment inspector who dealt with the case, following Cotswold DC's refusal to grant a certificate of lawful development, had said in his decision: 'I regard the lack of running water and a toilet as serious shortcomings in terms of the day to day facilities normally expected in a dwelling house. The small, single-room size of the building also sets it apart from what I would regard as a dwelling house.'

He said the building was not constructed as a house and it did not in his opinion look like a house.

However, Mr Grendon had argued claims that the inspector misdirected himself as to the proper test of what constituted a dwelling house in the eyes of the law. He argued that the prime consideration in any such application was whether the occupier lived in the building and made his home there.

STRAND NEWS SERVICE

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