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Tuesday, November 01, 2005


This from today's Scotsman
A FARMER who built two detached houses without planning consent behind a wall of "tattie" boxes was yesterday ordered to tear the buildings down.

Charles Marshall Senior was accused earlier this year of a "serious and blatant" breach of planning controls after the Aberdeenshire company in which he is a partner, Marshall Farms, built two additional homes in a steading conversion development at South Auchinclech, Westhill, on the outskirts of Aberdeen.

Marshall Farms had originally been granted planning permission by Aberdeenshire Council in 1999 to convert the U-shaped steading into five homes.

But the council served an enforcement notice on the company seven months ago after officials discovered that an old bothy, close to the steading, had been demolished and replaced by an almost completed one-and-a-half-storey dwelling house and that a completely new dwelling house had also been partly constructed at the green belt site.

The two unauthorised buildings were hidden from public view behind a massive stack of potato boxes. But Mr Marshall later vigorously refuted suggestion that the wall of boxes had been built around the site to conceal the building activity and vowed to contest the council's action.

Yesterday, however, it was revealed that Marshall Farms has lost its appeal to the Scottish Executive and that Aberdeenshire Council's enforcement order has been upheld by Michael Thomson, an inquiry reporter with the Executive's development department.

Mr Thomson states in his judgment that there is no justification whatsoever for the additional buildings being constructed at the site and that they should be removed.

But, in his report, Mr Thomson made a point of praising the standard of the building work carried out at the site.

In his conclusions, he said: "At the start, I consider it necessary to record that the standard of the building work carried out on the appeal site appears to be of a very high standard.

"The materials used, at least on all the main elevations of the buildings involved, are also exceptional.

"While I found some of the details of the conversion to be incongruous to a scheme of such quality, overall it is rare, in my opinion, to find a developer willing to invest in building to such a standard.

" I therefore consider it all the more curious that so much of the work has been carried out without the benefit of planning permission and has been put in jeopardy as a result."

Mr Marshall, 72, said he was considering his right of appeal to the Court of Session. He said: "It's pathetic, but they have made the decision."

Questioned about the allegations concerning the wall of potato boxes being used to conceal the building work, he said: "They were in a field beside the houses. The boxes were waiting for the tatties to be harvested and the tatties are now harvested. It is a lot of rubbish from start to finish but we will rise to see another day, I am quite sure."

A spokesman for Aberdeenshire Council welcomed the reporter's findings. He said: "The council is pleased that the reporter has recognised the seriousness of the breach of planning control at South Auchinclech, but also wishes to acknowledge the co-operation it has received from Marshall Farms in respect of other planning matters brought to the council's attention.

"This case highlights the importance of following proper planning procedures when proposing a development, and the seriousness we attach to breaches of this nature.

"Marshall Farms will now have three months to demolish the unauthorised houses."
Indeed the importance of proper planning procedures is much more important than creating something useful. Note that this is being enforced neither on grounds of building standards (they were admitted to be of a particularly high standard) nor esthetic standards (unless piles of tattie boxes are considered high art). In this country a sizeable part of most people's income goes on housing. This proves that the cost of housing depends not on the cost of building houses but on government regulations. The fact that Marshall were sufficiently unconcerned about the marginal cost of building 2 houses, with no added land or consent, costs proves that.

It is ever more difficult for first timers to get housing, indeed there are many highland towns where young people are forced out because available houses are being bought as holiday homes. Quite obviously in a free market there would be no shortage because it would be possible to build more. Some years ago a US congressman calculated that housing costs could be reduced by 40%, but that was years ago & it wasn't Scotland - if land was available at market rates & it was permitted to use modern materials & mass off-site manufacturing I have little doubt that new housing costs could be reduced to no more than 25% of current costs.

"Affordable housing" one of the mantras of our government is a cruel lie - it actually means more taxpayer subsidies to allow the state (via housing associations) to build outdated homes which get filled only because of their monopoly position. This allows the state to keep people dependent. Truly affordable houses are entirely attainable - all that is required is that the politicians stop preventing builders building.

(this was also drafted as a Scotsman letter but they didn't use it)

I am pleased to say that tho' the Scotsman didn't use my letter on re-presenting it the Herald did yesterday. I was quite surprised they did so because I have thought of the Scotsman as being fairly libertarian & the Herald being more statist. On the other hand the Herald recently came out for Irish style cutting business taxes.
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