Boat duo win reprieve
A FAMILY living on a houseboat fighting for their right to keep the vessel on its mooring have won at least an extra month aboard their floating home.Elizabeth Berry and Terry Langridge sent detailed letters outlining their case to stay on their barge at Wilford Bridge at Melton to every member of Suffolk Coastal council's south area development control sub committee.
By Richard Cornwell
A FAMILY living on a houseboat fighting for their right to keep the vessel on its mooring have won at least an extra month aboard their floating home.
Elizabeth Berry and Terry Langridge sent detailed letters outlining their case to stay on their barge at Wilford Bridge at Melton to every member of Suffolk Coastal council's south area development control sub committee.
The committee decided it would need to time to digest the letter's contents, which raised a fresh set of questions for officers to answer and a number of new issues to be assessed.
It agreed to defer the matter of eviction from Wilford Wharf for at least a month while planning officers compiled a new report.
Planners allege that the couple is in breach of planning control. They claim a 2,750 litre oil storage tank to supply a power generator, patio table and chairs barbecue and household items, and now electricity connected, has turned the boat on the River Deben into a permanent home.
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They say it is a unauthorised development under the Town and Country Planning Act, and against policy which states new moorings will not be granted between Sun Wharf and Wilford Bridge.
A report due to go before the sub committee recommended councillors give the family three months to move.
"Representations relating to the use of the land for the mooring of a houseboat have been made to the council by a number of local residents as well as residents of Woodbridge who use the public right of way that runs alongside the river," said director of planning and leisure Jeremy Schofield.
"If a retrospective planning application were to be submitted, seeking permission to retain the houseboat in its present location, it is considered this could not be recommended."
But Ms Berry and Mr Langridge, who have a daughter, 13, and son, nine, said the council had kept them in the dark about proposed enforcement action and if they were forced to remove their barge, they would be legally homeless and would have to be rehoused by the council.
They say the barge had been lived on in Melton for eleven years and has established use.
The report had many omissions – including not mentioning proposals for improving the site, that the lease is commercial and has established commercial use, or that boats have been lived on at the wharf for many years.
The family pay council tax, which they claim makes the land and buildings with the mooring become domestic property.