Judge rules in favour of Wisbech chiropractice following enforcement appeal over listed building staircase

Kola Akindele from the North Brink Hair and Beauty who may have to remove this new staircase because of planning enforcement order. Kola Akindele from the North Brink Hair and Beauty who may have to remove this new staircase because of planning enforcement order.

Sunday, January 26, 2014
12:20 AM

The Government has been ordered to pay “the reasonable expenses” incurred by a Wisbech chiropractic after they won a High Court battle over an enforcement order.

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The Government has been ordered to pay “the reasonable expenses” incurred by a Wisbech chiropractic after they won a High Court battle over an enforcement order.

Dr Kola and Mrs Vanessa Akindele won a judgement from Robert Jay QC, sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge, regarding the installation of a second staircase in a listed building at 6 North Brink, Wisbech.

The judge ruled that an inspector who backed Fenland Council’s listed building enforcement made a “material error of law”.

He accepted that the inspector had not properly considered the dual use of the staircase both by those using the Akindele’s practice (which also included a beauty salon) and tenants of flats in the same property.

The arguments centred on whether it was right for the inspector to conclude that the tenants could pass through the chiropractic surgery area unsupervised.

Although the inspector had ruled that her decision would not have been affected either way by who used the staircase “it cannot be concluded on the face of the decision document, as opposed to after the event evidence, that the decision would inevitably have been the same”.

The judge said evidence submitted afterwards was inadmissible anyway and found in favour of the Akindeles’.

“It is therefore appropriate that the appeal is allowed,” said Mr Jay.

However he also ruled that the matter would be remitted for rehearing and de-determination to consider the issues afresh.

The judge said the Akindeles had been self represented for much of the duration of the appeal and had been represented in court by pro bon counsel.

“It is agreed that there should be a” limited order as to costs” against the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government “ to pay the reasonable expenses incurred by the appellants in relation to this litigation”.

6 North Brink originally had three storeys and a basement but a fourth storey was added at a later date. The building is used not only for a chiropractor’s clinic but has treatment rooms and a hair and beauty salon on other levels.

Breach of the regulations at the Grade II* house was discovered during a visit to the property following a fire at the neighbouring Phoenix Hotel.

The chipboard staircase leading from the ground floor lobby to the first floor, had been installed despite the existence of one dating back to the early 19th century. It had not been shown on plans for previous planning permissions.

Fenland District Council recommended that the owners submit a formal application for listed building consent but advised them that it could be refused and that they would have the right to appeal.

English Heritage objected to the retention of the staircase and the application was refused.

FDC then served an enforcement notice on the owners, requiring them to remove it within 12 months.

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