Northaw couple win right to stay in home

A FAMILY who built a �500,000 home disguised as a barn on the Green Belt have won the right to stay living there.

Alan Beesley and wife Sarah used a legal loophole to stop Welwyn Hatfield Council forcing them out of their hay barn at Northaw Brook Meadow, off Coopers Lane Road, near Northaw.

The law states a certificate of lawfulness can be obtained by homeowners who have lived in a property for more than four years, even if they do not have planning permission.

The country’s top judges were shocked at the ruling they had to make, although Mr Beesley believes he has done nothing wrong.

The 39-year-old dad-of-one told the WHT he never intended to move into the property, when the original planning permission for an agricultural barn was applied for.

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But a string of thefts on their 22-acre site of quadbikes, stable equipment and horseboxes, led them to make the move to live on their land.

The council now has to pay �21,184 in legal costs to the Government although Mr Beesley, who owns a property development company, believes the cost to the taxpayer has been much more. He said: “I haven’t applied for costs and I’m not going to, I’ve paid them.

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“I didn’t want to rub the council’s nose in it.

“It must have cost them tens of thousands of pounds so far.

“There are certain people at the local authority that have a bee in their bonnets.

“We deliberately sited the stables and barn at the bottom of a valley beyond visibility from the road so not make any impact on the countryside. No-one knew we even lived there until we informed the local authority.”

He added he has tried to work with the council, providing information and paying backdated council tax.

A council spokeswoman said: “While we are disappointed with the outcome of the judgement, we are currently looking at the options available to us.”

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