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Milford Haven: Legal battle over shed on wheels in court

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THE OWNER and occupier of the residence known as Pill Priory, in Lower Priory, Milford Haven was in court last week (May 9) to argue that a shed that he built without planning permission was not a building, but a movable object.

The argument is that by putting it on wheels, James Kershaw had created a chatel and not a property subject to planning rules.

At Haverfordwest Magistrates’ Court representatives from the Council said: “Pill Priory is a medieval priory. It is a highly sensitive. It is designated as a Grade 2* listed building and a Scheduled Ancient Monument. These designations denote that the property is nationally important.”

Kershaw, 39, who runs a gardening business, is accused of the offence of breaching the Enforcement Notice dated 26 September 2016 contrary to section 179 (2) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

In court, both parties agree that in 2015 the defendant constructed a shed in the garden at Pill Priory without the benefit of planning permission.

When the Council became aware of the shed, they said, they asked him to remove it. He refused. In these circumstances, the Council had little choice, they say, but to serve the notice to require the removal of the shed.

The court heard that Kershaw then appealed the notice. He argued that the notice ought to be quashed as the shed is not a building and so the breach of planning control has been mis-described on the face of the notice; and that he ought to be granted planning permission retrospectively for it.

But the council said it suspects that the defendant made the adaptions to the shed after the first appearance in the Magistrates’ Court “when he realised the serious legal position in which he found himself.”

This is something that Kershaw denied in court, supported by a witness, Mr Dai Garland, who said that he assisted in the alterations long before the legal proceedings had commenced.

In its skeleton argument, barrister for the Council, Jack Smyth of No.5 chambers wrote: “The fact that the shed is lightweight (made of plywood and ship lap) and no larger than the average static caravan is neither here nor there. Not all buildings need be big. Lots of buildings are small (such as a modest greenhouse or wendy-house). It is denied that the adaptation of the shed transforms it from a building to a chattel.

Defiant: James Kershaw

He went on: “Even if the defendant is right that the shed is no longer a building, the fact that it was a building when the notice was served and scrutinised by the Inspector does not render the notice a nullity. Whatever label one attaches to it (“shed
“building”; “structure”; “hut”), we are talking about the same wooden “thing”.

“The label does not constitute a deficiency sufficiently serious to make a notice bad on its face.

“Even if the defendant is right that the shed is no longer a building, he could have demolished it as required by the notice. It is not accepted that this action was impossible.

The Council barrister went on in his report to say: “The Court may be impressed by the creativity and imagination displayed by the
defendant (and those acting on his behalf).

“But, in truth, the legal argument advanced by him is little more than semantic sophistry. It provides no defence to the summons. If he had simply removed the shed as he was required to do, we would not find ourselves here.

“Whatever the legal “gloss” placed on the defendant’s argument, it is contrived and unconvincing. The Court is invited to dismiss the argument and find the charge proven.”

THE DEFENCE

In his submissions, barrister for the defence Mr Matthew Graham Paul of Civitas Chambers wrote: “Where a unit is designed to be mobile, and in particular where it has its own wheels, the Courts have tended to find it lacks permanence. In Measor v. Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, Robin Purchas QC (a specialist in planning law) citing Barvis and Elitestone found there were ample grounds for his conclusion that the caravans which were the subject of the case did not constitute ‘buildings’ within [planning law].

“In the event that the Court disagrees that the adaptation of the shed so that it is not a building discharges the defendant’s obligations in complying with the notice (i.e. that it does not amount to ‘demolition’), it should nevertheless dismiss the charge because the Enforcement Notice is a nullity as it refers to a ‘building’.

“Secondly, if the shed was not a building on 12th February 2018 James Kershaw was in no position to demolish a building, as the Enforcement Notice purported to require. The action required by the EN was impossible, which has also been held to constitute a defence to failing to comply with the requirements of an Enforcement Notice by rendering it a nullity.”

Following lengthy legal submissions the judge decided to reserve judgement until next month.

The case was adjourned until 14th June 2019 for District Judge Chris James to deliver his judgement at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court.

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Tragedy above Milford Haven takeaway

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DYFED POWYS POLICE has confirmed that a 20-year-old male passed away in Milford Haven last Saturday, April 17.

Police were called to the USA Fried Chicken store on Charles Street at around 1:30pm but have said there are no suspicious circumstances.

A Herald reporter was at the scene and witnessed a number of police cars and an ambulance while plain-clothed officers were also seen.

HM Coroner has been informed.

A Welsh Ambulance Service spokesperson added: “We were called to Charles Street in Milford Haven on Saturday 17 April at approximately 1.34pm to reports of a medical emergency. We attended the scene with one emergency ambulance where we assisted colleagues from the police.”

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Health

Tavernspite School the ‘healthiest of schools despite the pandemic’

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THE STAFF, governors, parents, and of course, the children of Tavernspite Community Primary School are delighted to gain the Welsh Network of Healthy School Schemes National Quality Award for an incredible 5th time after a recent and very rigorous assessment.

The school is already well known and highly regarded for its outstanding work in developing the health and wellbeing of all members of its school community. To achieve this prestigious recognition in the midst of a pandemic is all the more impressive. 

Health and Wellbeing at the school is led by teacher, Lauren Arthur, who has done an incredible job preparing for this re-assessment and raising the profile of the Healthy Schools scheme.

The assessor Mrs Lynne Perry, enjoyed a virtual tour and presentation by Year 3 pupils who took great pleasure in proudly showing Mrs Perry all the wonderful work the school has done to ensure its children are safe, happy with high levels of emotional and physical wellbeing.

In her report, Mrs Perry wrote, ‘Tavernspite School continues to be an outstanding health promoting school. The health promoting school ethos is evident across the whole school population and it runs seamlessly throughout everything that the school does. Tavernspite School continues to give high priority to promoting and enhancing the health and well-being of the whole school community.’

The school received fantastic support from Mrs Liz Western, Senior Public Health Officer and Lead for Healthy Schools and Pre-schools, Pembrokeshire, to whom they are very grateful.

Head teacher Kevin Phelps said, ‘We were delighted to receive this award for the fifth time, particularly considering the experiences we have all been through these past twelve months. Health and wellbeing has never been so important and we are proud to be leading the way like this.’

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Joinery learner through to Screwfix Trade Apprentice of the Year Finals

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PEMBROKESHIRE COLLEGE joinery learner, Conor Ratcliff has made it through to the final ten in this year’s Screwfix Trade Apprentice of the Year competition.

Now in its seventh year, the competition celebrates the next generation of tradespeople as they start out on their career. With over 2,500 nominations, Conor was shortlisted to the top 30 where he had to deliver a video presentation to industry-leading judges and trade body representatives. Judged on professionalism, creativity, innovation, enthusiasm and knowledge of their trade, Conor impressed the judges and is now in the final 10.  

Simon Jackson, Screwfix Customer and Digital director, commented: “Every year we are amazed by the outstanding quality of entrants and, this year, we are on the lookout for apprentices who go above and beyond to succeed within their chosen trade.

“We’ve seen how this career-boosting accolade and £10,000 prize bundle helps kickstart an apprentice’s career. I’d like to wish everyone through to this stage the best of luck!”

The prize package includes everything a future tradesperson may need to start up their own business including £5,000 of tools, a £3,000 training budget and £2,000 worth of technology. The college where they study will also receive £2,000.

Conor is thrilled to have made it through to the finals and commented: “I am extremely honoured to have made it this far in the competition and I am very excited for the final event. It would be an amazing opportunity for me, if I won this competition.

“I hope it encourages more people to consider an apprenticeship in a trade, the Carpentry and Joinery department have been incredibly supportive during my studies.”

The Final is due to take place imminently where the judges will conduct an online interview with the ten finalists before selecting and announcing their overall winner.

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