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Decade-long rule breach helps Fordingbridge woman escape eviction

A WOMAN has escaped eviction from her Fordingbridge home by proving she had flouted a planning condition for more than a decade.

A planning inspector ruled that, under the law, no action could be taken against Nikki Manston after she successfully established she had not worked in agriculture for more than 10 years while living at 6 Midgham Farm Cottages.

The issue stemmed from when permission was granted to build the property in January 1951. A condition was attached stating the latest or current employment of the occupants must be in forestry or agriculture.

Midgham Farm Cottages is in a rural spot east of Alderholt (pic: Google)
Midgham Farm Cottages is in a rural spot east of Alderholt (pic: Google)

When New Forest District Council recently refused Mrs Manston a lawful development certificate to continue living there, she launched an appeal which was heard by government inspector Iwan Lloyd.

Mrs Manston argued when she and Mr Manston bought the home in 2005 neither was employed in agriculture; she was a supply teacher and he had undertaken agricultural work prior to that but was a self-employed carpenter between 2004 and 2007.

She handed in sworn statutory declarations from them, witnessed by a solicitor and Nicola Annie Hirst – a friend of the couple who corroborated their claims.

The inspector noted that since 2007 Mr Manston worked in general maintenance and estate properties at Whitsbury Farm and Stud Ltd, and moved out of the property in January 2019.

Mrs Manston retrained as a veterinary nurse in 2007, working in several practices before settling into a full-time role at a vet's in Fordingbridge.

Mr Lloyd said it was clear the occupancy condition was breached by 2007 and continued uninterrupted until the lawful development certificate application in December 2019. Because that was 10 years or more, the breach was “thereby immune from enforcement action”, he said.

He clarified the lawful development certificate did not cancel the occupancy condition for future occupants but instead provides protection against enforcement of the current breach by Mrs Manston.

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