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Man wins right to a simple lifestyle

PUBLISHED: 08:52 09 February 2009 | UPDATED: 12:58 03 July 2010

A NORFOLK villager has won the right to continue his unconventional, green lifestyle after a bid to compulsorily purchase his home was overturned.

Following a public inquiry in Acle last month, the secretary of state for communities and local government has ruled that ousting Martin Milner from his chalet bungalow in Cantley, near Yarmouth, would violate his human rights.

A NORFOLK villager has won the right to continue his unconventional, green lifestyle after a bid to compulsorily purchase his home was overturned.

Following a public inquiry in Acle last month, the secretary of state for communities and local government has ruled that ousting Martin Milner from his chalet bungalow in Cantley, near Yarmouth, would violate his human rights.

Broadland District Council had issued the compulsory purchase order after a 10-year battle with Mr Milner to persuade him to improve his Station Road home called Lupinus.

The council's solicitor Chris Skinner had told the inquiry that Mr Milner's attempted DIY had left the house in a dangerous condition with its bathroom and kitchen ripped out, a concrete floor dug up and a hole in the roof resulting from the removal of a chimney. The property also had electric wires hanging loose.

However, in his report to the secretary of state, Robert Marshall, the planning inspector presiding over the inquiry, said: “It is Mr Milner's stated intention to continue living in Lupinus. He is committed to living in an unconventional, and some say, commendable way. His occupation of the house and use of the land is an important part of this.”

Mr Marshall said that if Mr Milner had lost his home it would be a violation of the European Convention of Human Rights.

The inspector said there was no documented evidence to show that the condition of Mr Milner's land had given rise to any complaints from local residents over the past nine years, and he ruled the external appearance of the house was “satisfactory”.

Mr Milner, 60, had declined to attend the hearing but his family had said he suffered severely from manic depression, also known as bipolar syndrome, which led to bouts of depression that disabled him and stopped him completing DIY projects.

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

Speaking after the inquiry, Mr Milner, a former employee of a Broads boatbuilding firm, admitted the interior of his home would not be to everyone's taste, but it was adequate for his simple lifestyle.

Andy Jarvis, head of environmental services at Broadland District Council, said: “We have tried to help Mr Milner with the problems with his property for several years, including giving him a home repair grant and the offer of an interest-free loan of up to £40,000.

“We note the decision of the secretary of state and are pleased to see that Mr Milner's family has rallied round to back him and we hope this will continue.”

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