Fresh bid to save pensioners' home amid council plans to tear it down

Ian Hodge says relatives who have lived in the chalet for four years now used their life-savings to building their home.

Fresh bid to save pensioners’ home amid council plans to tear it down at Hodges Farm, East Lothian LDRS

A last-minute bid to stop an elderly couple’s home being torn down has been made to ministers.

Ian Hodge is fighting to keep a chalet built by his in-laws on the family farm after he was refused planning permission for it.

He says the relatives who have lived in the chalet for four years now used their life-savings to building their home.

But despite claiming it was ancillary accommodation because his in-laws provide childcare allowing him and his wife to run the farm business, appeals against the decision were also lost.

Now Mr Hodge has lodged an appeal against an enforcement order issued by the local authority demanding the chalet is removed from the farm and his relatives cease living in it.

The appeal was lodged the day before the enforcement order deadline ran out.

Mr Hodge applied for retrospective planning permission for the chalet at Hodges Farm, at The Boggs, near Pencaitland, three years ago.

However planning permission was refused and an appeal to Scottish Ministers saw the Scottish Government Reporter back the council’s decision.

In the appeal lodged by the family’s agents, they said the parents, who were 72 and 65 at the time, had used all their savings to move to the chalet and would have no home without the planning application being granted.

They added: “The appellant acknowledges and regrets their mistake in thinking the chalet did not require planning permission, but the situation has taken its toll with considerable stress upon the family, particularly with all uncertainty caused by the ongoing pandemic with (both parents) being within the vulnerable category on account of their age and health.”

East Lothian Council initially issued an enforcement notice demanding the chalet be removed early last year however it was withdrawn after Mr Hodge appealed to Scottish Ministers pointing out it had never been served on the occupants of the chalet itself.

The council acknowledged the “administrative error” and were ordered to pay Mr Hodge’s costs.

A second enforcement notice was issued in April and an appeal against it has now also been lodged.

Notifying ministers of the appeal, Mr Hodge claimed the notice should be withdrawn because “not all persons with an interest according to East Lothian council have been informed.”