Home owner seeks compensation

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Ivor Barette said he feels ‘vindicated’ after the States Complaints Board ruled he is owed a ‘written apology’ from the department due to the ‘excessive monitoring’ of the works.

He said the department’s officials behaved like ‘uncompromising bullies’ and he has vowed to seek compensation for losses he has incurred as a result of the ongoing battle.

Mr Barette lodged a formal complaint about the way he says he was ‘singled out’ for unfair attention from planning officials as he sought to renovate his ‘uninhabitable’ property, Broughton Lodge Farm.

He was fined £50,000 by the Royal Court in 2016 for removing the sash windows from the property and subsequently burning them without appropriate permission.

However, the complaints board have said the ‘excessive monitoring by two enforcement officers’ – who it was said made unscheduled visits to Broughton Lodge every two weeks – had created a feeling of ‘distrust and conflict’ which ultimately contributed to Mr Barette’s actions.

The board heard that one of the two officials had been disciplined when he was a police officer following a ‘substantiated misconduct complaint’ by Mr Barette several years earlier.

Mr Barette said: ‘I am disgusted with the way the Planning Department acted. They are a bunch of uncompromising bullies.

‘The two had a vendetta against me and I have lost out.

‘Financially I am at a loss. If I could have carried on with the building four or five years ago it would have cost me a lot less than what it is going to cost now.

‘I don’t just need an apology – I need compensation as well. I want some money back, to be honest, and I will be looking to take this further.’

Mr Barette, who had already completed two of the planned three stages of renovation, has left several signs hanging from his St Mary home criticising the department since the court case.

Mr Barette pleaded guilty to breaching the Planning Law and was fined £50,000 – twice what the prosecution lawyer had recommended.

The St Mary resident said that he had been ‘poorly advised’ by his lawyer and that he had ‘lost faith in the judicial system’, as he did not feel he was given a proper chance to explain his side of the story in court.

At a complaints board hearing, Mr Barette said he had been ‘deprived of the joy of living in his home for the past five years’. The panel heard that the interior of the historic building had become ‘uninhabitable’ and that large wooden areas – including the window panels – had become infested with dry rot. The panel said the floor and windows would have ‘undoubtedly been condemned’ had they been properly viewed by planning officers and had that been the case it would be ‘fair to assume that no enforcement action would have followed’.

Following the board’s decision, member Janice Eden said: ‘This case is a prime example of how the government interacting with private citizens can have an enormous effect both emotionally and financially on those concerned, especially when communication breaks down, as it did in this instance.

‘The fact that one of the enforcement officers had been disciplined when he was a police officer following a substantiated misconduct complaint by Mr Barette should have been taken into consideration by Planning and that officer should not have been involved in Mr Barette’s case in any way. His continued presence in itself was provocative and antagonistic.’

The board members for the hearing were deputy chairman Stuart Catchpole QC, Janice Eden and Graeme Marett.

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