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Huntingdonshire council refuses bid to turn holiday lodge into permanent home

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A council has refused to allow a floating holiday lodge to be classified as a permanent home.

The decision by Huntingdonshire District Council follows a bid to reclassify lodge one at Hartford Marina.

The applicant said the lodge is securely moored to land leased from the marina.

Wim Brunsting wanted the council to grant him a lawful development certificate for residential occupancy of the lodge at the Banks End, Wyton, marina.

“The application seeks regularisation of the use of the lodge from holiday accommodation to sole residence in excess of 10 years,” says a report by the council.

Hartford Marina is an inland marina created from a former gravel pit and connected to the River Great Ouse via a short channel.

The marina is formed up of a large area of open water with various small groups of moored boats off pontoons of both pleasure and houseboats.

The marina has facilities that serve the site including a shop, chandlery, management offices, staff flat, yacht brokerage office and boat repair buildings and an associated car parking areas around the site.

The council said lodge one is a floating lodge adjacent to the bank in the north-west corner of the marina.

Original permission allowed for the lodges to be used only as holiday accommodation.

The council heard that the application is for a certificate was based on a claim of sole residential occupancy for more than 10 years.

Supporting evidence to council included plans, site photos and a statutory declaration affidavit from the owner.

The council said the onus of Lawful Development Certificate application is firmly on the applicant.

“The application seeks to demonstrate that the use of the lodge has been for sole residency in excess of 10 years,” said the council.

The statutory declaration evidence covers the period from 1997 to 2007 indicating that the use of Lodge 1, Hartford Marina, Banks End, as sole residence had occurred over 10 years prior to the submission for the application.

The written statement and covering letter application detail that the lodge has been used continuously as such since.

The council said the evidence has been carefully assessed in hand with the council’s aerial photography covering 1998, 2000, 2003, 2009,2013 and 2019 which shows the lodge has remained in place as per the submitted plans.

The lodge has occupied the same position for many years and has not been moved

But the council says that whilst the written statement and covering letters suggest the use as sole residence continued following the period covered by the statutory declaration, Council Tax records have been checked.

And they do not support the continuous use of the lodge as a sole residential dwelling from 2006 to 2021.

“Officers are of the opinion that on the balance of probability the evidence submitted does not support the claim that use of the lodge has been for sole residency for a period of 10 years,” says the council report.

“The evidence held by the council in the form of Council Tax records contradicts the applicant’s version of events.

“The standard of proof required for a certificate of lawfulness is the ‘balance of probability’.

“The applicant needs to prove not only that the use for which the certificate is sought has materially changed and commenced for a 10 – year period but also that the material change has been continuous.

“The local authority holds evidence that contradicts the applicant’s version of events and therefore the officer considers it less than probable that the lodge has been used a sole residence continuously since 1997.

“Evidence shows that there has been a substantial break in council tax records from 2006 to 2021; the information provided and available to the LPA is sufficiently precise and unambiguous to justify the refusal of a certificate on the balance of probability.

“It is therefore recommended that the certificate is refused.”

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