AN ANIMAL lover who has finally won a two-and-a-half year battle with council chiefs to provide shelter for horses on green-belt land – has branded the planning marathon “a shambles”.
Norman Keenleyside wants to know why it took so long to resolve the dispute over the shelter he built on land off Follingsby Lane, West Boldon.
Mr Keenleyside, 69, was ordered to demolish it by South Tyneside Council in February 2012 because it didn’t have planning permission.
But now the council says he is allowed to use a mobile shelter – which can be towed to different parts of the field – and his animals will have protection from the winter weatrher.
Mr Keenleyside has six welsh cobs on the land.
Mr Keenleyside was warned he could face a £20,000 fine if he didn’t pull down the shelter and, despite lodging an appeal - and winning the backing of more than 3,400 Gazette readers in an online poll – the Planning Inspectorate ruled the building would have to be flattened in March as it adversely affected the character of the countryside.
Mr Keenleyside spent £340 on his planning appeal and had to fork out another £395 to pay for the council having to issue an enforcement notice for its demolition.
He has now built the new shelter-on-skates – but is angry that he was never told the mobile option was open to him when the lengthy dispute began.
Mr Keenleyside sent a photograph to the council’s planning team of the type of mobile shelter he planned to use and was told he could build it without permission as it was for agricultural use.
He said: “I just can’t understand why I have been put through two-and-a-half years of frustration. It has wasted a lot of time and money, mine and the council’s.”
Mr Keenleyside says he is happy the conflict is finally over but feels he should be compensated for the cash he has had to spend on a planning appeal which was bid doomed to fail.
He said: “When this first started, I was told by the council that, if I wanted a mobile shelter, I would have to pay for a planning application and change of use again.
“Why wasn’t I told I didn’t need planning permission for the mobile shelter? It’s been is a complete waste of time and money.
“I have had to spend a lot of money unnecessarily.”
“At the end of the day, I’ve stood my ground and I’ve won but I’m thankful it has now come to and end.
Mr Keenleyside added: “After the Gazette ran a poll with more than 3,400 people backing me, I thought the council would listen, but it has taken this long for them to get on board.
“The whole process has been a shambles. I just wanted to give my horses some protection from the winter weather.”
He believes the welfare of the animals should have taken priority over concerns about the appearance of the shelter.
A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: “Mr Keenleyside built the shelter which breached planning regulations and as a result was served an enforcement notice requiring it to be demolished. He appealed to the Secretary of State, who upheld the decision.
“Mr Keenleyside complied with the notice and, since then, officers in the planning department have worked closely with him to identify potential solutions, which allow him to meet his requirements.”
n Voice of South Tyneside ... Page 6