'Squatter' couple win right to use land as garden

Land at Blackbird Close Bradwell squatters planning issue

Donna and Kent Barron can continue to use a patch of land they now own as their garden, but the gazebo may have to come down. - Credit: Liz Coates

A couple who fenced off a pocket of land near their home can continue using it as their private garden, planners have ruled.

Kent and Donna Barron took partial control of the plot near their home in Blackbird Close, Bradwell, via the adverse possession route used by squatters more than three years ago.

Following a complaint and questions about ownership they were told to apply for a retrospective change of use.

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

The decision ends a stressful saga for the couple during which they were branded "thieves" on social media.

After the planning meeting on Wednesday night the couple said they were relieved and happy to draw a line under the saga.

"I will be able to sleep now," Mrs Barron said.

During the debate at Great Yarmouth Borough Council Tony Wright said the issue was straightforward. 

"I do not see any problem with this application," he said.

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"It all looks good and legal and above board."

Blackbird Close bid to turn land into private garden

Donna and Kent Barron have turned a patch of wasteland into a private garden and were asked by planners to submit a change of use application. They are now the legal owners and on Wednesday December 8 were granted permission. - Credit: Liz Coates

Bernard Williamson said it was "a positive move" the land had been taken into ownership and would be maintained.

The saga began when Mr and Mrs Barron fenced off the land which had been vacant for around 20 years after an electricity pylon was removed.

Having tried to track down the owner and buy it they took adverse possession, as advised by the Land Registry.

However, three years later they were reported to planners for not applying for a change of use amid concerns about loss of open space and setting a precedent.

Land at Blackbird Close being looked at by planners

Permission to use a patch of land as private garden only applies to the fenced off area, even thought Donna and Kent Barron now own the whole plot. - Credit: Liz Coates

Ahead of a meeting  officers said in their report to development control committee members that ownership was not a planning issue while noting the couple had done all they could to buy it.

Since the bid had been submitted they were able to track down the original builder and seal a deal.

The ward councillors had voiced objections but opted not to speak against the bid at the meeting.

Permission was granted on condition that no structures are erected on the plot - thought to include a gazebo currently in place.

Although the couple now own the whole plot, the change of use only applies to the fenced off area.

Mr Barron told the meeting he would be happy to discuss plans for a bus shelter on the remaining portion facing the street.