Planning battle may end with home loss

By Connie Osborne Friday 28 February 2014 Updated: 28/02 09:23

A FECKENHAM woman faces losing her home and business after two years of 'planning hell.'

Samantha Beck hit out at Redditch Borough Council after being warned she could be fined up to £20,000 - as the Standard reported last week.

The mother of two bought land at the Saltway in 2012 in the hope of transforming it into a rare bird conservation farm.

But an application for temporary permission for an eco-friendly log cabin as well as an incubator shed for the birds was refused by planning officers, despite backing by Feckenham Parish Council and an agent from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

A second application for the temporary use of a caravan so she could remain on site to watch and care for the 200 birds as well as other animals, was also turned down. Planners argue there is no need for Ms Beck to live permanently on the site and the business case was not substantiated.

For the last two years Ms Beck has had no choice but to live illegally in the caravan, which has no running water, along with her son and partner in a bid to keep her business going and look after the birds which could die if the electricity to the incubators cuts out.

Attempts to appeal the application were halted after her agent was injured in a serious car crash and Ms Beck claims planning rules mean she can now not re-appeal.

Redditch MP Karen Lumley is writing to council chief executive Kevin Dicks calling for the application to be looked at again, while it has also been examined by independent agents who claim it should have been passed.

Since living on the site the family have also been targeted with stones and dirt poured through their letterbox, as well as eggs and money stolen from their shop.

"I have literally been through hell and back for the last two years. I have now been left with no representation and now the prospect of no home," she said.

"When I bought the land I was led to believe the application would be approved in a matter of weeks. But this has dragged on splitting my family up.

"All we need is this temporary permission to prove it works, I've given the council the forecasts and clients who are interested, but how are we supposed to prove we can do these things when we cannot put the things in place needed for to support the business."

A spokeswoman for Redditch Borough Council said they could not comment on individual cases subject to enforcement action.

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