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Inquiry's focus on bungalow

PUBLISHED: 15:18 10 January 2009 | UPDATED: 12:44 03 July 2010

A VILLAGE bungalow was the subject of a public inquiry this week after a council claimed it had been wrecked by disastrous DIY.

Broadland District Council stated its case to compulsorily purchase a chalet bungalow at Station Road, Cantley, after owner Martin Milner had ripped out the bathroom and kitchen and dug up the concrete floor.

A VILLAGE bungalow was the subject of a public inquiry this week after a council claimed it had been wrecked by disastrous DIY.

Broadland District Council stated its case to compulsorily purchase a chalet bungalow at Station Road, Cantley, after owner Martin Milner had ripped out the bathroom and kitchen and dug up the concrete floor.

Planning inspectorate Robert Marshall presided over the inquiry at Acle War Memorial Recreation Centre on Tuesday and was told the council had fought a 10-year battle with Mr Milner to persuade him to improve his home of more than 30 years.

The home also had electric wires hanging dangerously loose, a hole in the roof caused by the removal of a chimney and a garden and neighbouring plot described by fed-up local people as eyesores and junkyards.

Acting on behalf of Broadland, Yarmouth Borough Council solicitor Chris Skinner acknowledged that Mr Milner, 60, suffered severely from manic depression, also known as bipolar syndrome, which led to terrible bouts

of depression that completely disabled him.

He said the council had resorted to a compulsory purchase order as “a last resort” amid complaints about the state of the property.

Mr Milner did not attend Tuesday's inquiry, stating in a text message to his son Giles that he was too ill to attend.

His son and three daughters, Katherine, Alice and Emily and ex-wife Jacqueline gave evidence instead.

The council's principal witness, private-sector housing manager John McAleely, said the house in Station Road first came to his attention in 1995 when the authority approved an application for a £6,000 renovation grant for wall, floor and window repairs, and for the installation of a new boiler.

The grant-aided work was abandoned when Mr Milner fell out with the builder and he then made things worse with his own large-scale DIY efforts, completely gutting the kitchen and bathroom.

He said what was a “fundamentally sound property in 1996 had been rendered unfit to live in by 1999”.

Mr Milner later refused an interest-free £40,000 housing loan, which would only have had to be repaid if he sold the house within 20 years.

Mr McAleely said they had been very patient with Mr Milner and had acted sympathetically towards him because his condition meant it took him a long time to respond.

He said the council only issued the CPO after Mr Milner moved into social housing - he later moved back when he heard about the action, which he appealed against.

Mr Milner's son Giles said the CPO was not in the public interest as there would be no net gain.

He said the council's argument that it would lead to social and environmental improvements - its justification for using the legislation - was unconvincing.

Daughters Emily, Alice and Katherine said their father was happy living a green lifestyle. He used a wood burner with locally-sourced wood, collected rainwater which was connected to taps in the house and had a compost toilet.

They said the garden and neighbouring plot were not full of junk; they were items being stored for reuse. His daughters insisted their father had never been offered the necessary support to help his dialogue with the council.

Mr Marshall was due to visit the site on Wednesday before submitting a report to the secretary of state for communities and local government who will decide if the CPO should go ahead.


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