Homeowner lodges complaint of ‘unfair’ treatment by Planning

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Ivor Barrette, who was fined £50,000 in 2016, claims that he has been treated unfairly by the Planning Department and now does not have enough money to complete the work to his property – saying the matter will have cost him over £200,000 when legal fees and the fine are included. He also says that the cost of construction has risen considerably in the past two years.

And Mr Barrette claims that the historic Jersey granite property, which he has covered in signs protesting about his treatment, had been listed by the department after he had started work on it in around 2011.

‘They have double standards. I have been treated differently compared to other people,’ he said. ‘I am having to sell a cottage to fund work but it [the house] will now not be to the standard that I would have liked.’

The horse-and-carriage-company owner gutted the interior of his home – Broughton Lodge Farm in St Mary – and removed 15 historic sash windows. He was issued with an enforcement notice ordering him to reinstate many of the fixtures and the windows. However, when planning officers visited the property they found the remains of a bonfire on which they suspected the windows had been burned.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of breaching the Planning and Building (Jersey) Law and was fined £50,000, double the amount asked for by the Crown. Mr Barrette alleges that he has been treated unfairly throughout the process.

He also claimed that he and his wife, Carole, had been bullied by two planning officers – Jeremy Bolton and Keith Bray – who he claims turned up at his property to make ‘excessive’ unscheduled inspections around once a fortnight.

Mr Barrette was accompanied at the hearing by a number of supporters, including newly elected St Mary Constable John Le Bailly, who said he had known Mr Barrette for 35 years and was supportive of him renovating his home.

He also said that the current state of the roadside property was attracting comments from the public and visitors, which did not portray the public system in the ‘highest esteem’.

Stuart Catchpole, deputy chairman of the States Complaints Board, then questioned Chris Jones, senior planner, and Tracey Ingle, principal historic environment planner, on the matter.

Mr Jones said: ‘In December 2009 Mr Barrette was sent a letter notifying him that the property had been listed. We sent another letter in January 2010 notifying of the listing again and explaining to him that he was not allowed to undertake any activity which would affect the site without prior permission.’

He also said that Mr Barrette had initially started working on his property with building permission, which relates to matters including fire safety and drainage, but without planning permission.

Responding to allegations that Mr Barrette had been unfairly targeted by planning officers on site visits, Mr Jones said that the two staff in question were not able to reply – with one having moved to Scotland and the other being ill.

Although no official record of the planning officers’ visits were produced, Mr Catchpole asked if the alleged number of visits Mr Barrette had received was normal, to which Mr Jones said it was not.

However, Graeme Marett, a chartered engineer sitting on the panel hearing the complaint, pointed out that, under law, planning officers were allowed access to properties and no reference was made to the frequency of their visits.

The board will now compile a report of their findings and any recommendations, which will be submitted to the Environment Minister.

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