WORK has started on the refurbishment of a farmhouse in St Mary that has been at the centre of one of the Island’s most high-profile planning disputes.
Ivor Barette’s long-running battle with the authorities began when he was fined £50,000 by the Royal Court in 2016 for carrying out work on his listed farmhouse, Broughton Lodge, without permission.
The States Complaints Board later upheld a complaint he made about his treatment, which sparked an independent review of the conduct of the Planning Department.
The ownership of the farm has now been transferred to Mr Barette’s daughter, with the 70-year-old saying he was too old to take out a loan to finance the project. Work on the property has started and is set to be completed by the end of 2022.
Mr Barette said that while he remained aggrieved at his treatment, he was pleased that the refurbishment of the family property was under way.
He said: ‘It’s some consolation that work has started, and the house will stay in the family, but I will never get to live in it.
‘It’s taken five years to get what we wanted, and yet the National Trust got the permission they applied for at Morel Farm with no trouble at all.’
Following the initial Royal Court ruling against him, Mr Barette adorned the property with signs criticising the government and the Planning Department.
The signs were in place until Mr Barette removed them last summer.
In 2018 the States Complaints Board ruled that Mr Barette had been dealt with in an ‘oppressive and overtly discriminatory way’ by the Planning Department, with officials’ monitoring of his property dubbed ‘excessive’ by the board.
An independent review of several allegations against the Planning Department, including Mr Barette’s, was initiated and carried out by Norfolk Constabulary. However the review concluded that there was insufficient evidence of criminal activity to prosecute.
Mr Barette said he was disappointed by the outcome of the review and remained convinced that action should have been taken against some staff at the department.