'Squatter' couple become legal owners of land as saga continues

Plot of squatter land Blackbird Close

Donna and Kent Barron are now the legal owners of a plot of land in Bradwell they had previously occupied as squatters. - Credit: Google maps

A Bradwell couple have sealed the deal on a parcel of land ahead of a crucial planning meeting to decide if they can use it as their private garden.

Donna and Kent Barron will be submitting documents to the Land Registry in the next few days after closing the sale with the original builders of their property on Monday.

They took "adverse possession" of the plot in Blackbird Close and fenced off a portion of it around three years ago, effectively making them squatters after they failed to locate the owner despite extensive enquiries.

In August they received a letter from Great Yarmouth Borough Council enforcement officers asking them to apply for planning permission for a change of use,  or take the fence down.

Land at Blackbird Close Bradwell squatters planning issue

Donna and Kent Barron have been using part of the land as their garden under squatters rights, but have now bought it. - Credit: Liz Coates

A decision is due at the council's next development control meeting on December 8.

In the meantime following years of investigations to find the legal owners Mrs Barron went back through the paperwork and found a trail leading to 1983 proving that builders WM Tubby had bought the land in February from Guyton's.

At the time a pylon stood on the plot and it was never registered, although Eastern Power Networks had placed a caution on it.

Mr Barron then wrote to the directors asking for help and was able to buy the land for an undisclosed sum at the eleventh hour.

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He said it made their case "absolute" and hoped planners would look favourably on their change-of-use bid.

Blackbird Close bid to turn land into private garden

Donna and Kent Barron have turned a patch of wasteland into a private garden after exhaustive attempts to find out who owned it. - Credit: Liz Coates

They now own the entire plot, including the portion not fenced in.

Documents uploaded to the borough council's planning portal include an invoice for the sale.

Borough council leader Carl Smith has objected to the change of use citing loss of informal public open space and the risk of setting a precedent such as in large open-plan post-war housing estates.

Deputy leader Graham Plant echoed Mr Smith's statement and requested to speak at the meeting.

Bradwell Parish Council has registered a holding objection "until such time as legal ownership of this land is resolved" adding that it intended to put a bus stop on the land.

One neighbour has objected saying allowing the change of use would "reward bad behaviour".

To view the documents visit the borough council's planning portal using reference 06/21/0766/CU.