Thorpe Islanders say Christmas will be ruined by planning row latest
- Credit: Archant Norfolk
Boat dwellers living on a Broads island say their Christmas has been ruined by zealous planners.
Thorpe Island residents could have their electricity and water cut off because of an ongoing planning row. The Broads Authority has promised no action will be taken on the 'uncontrolled and illegal' Thorpe St Andrew site until January.
But those living there say leaving the wrangle hanging over them is mean spirited, especially during the festive season.
Last month the authority wrote to those living on 25 boats on the island to say it is a criminal offence to fail to comply with the enforcement notice now covering the whole site.
Part of the potential legal action is the removal of a green storage container which has four solar panels on and supplies 240 volts of electricity and operates a pump which supplies the boats with water.
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Gary Barnes, 49, representing the Thorpe Island residents, said he is sickened by the situation.
'The bottom line is that they have asked Roger to remove the container as of Friday,' he said. 'If Roger had complied with that order the residents down at the basin wouldn't have any electricity or water.
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'They are only saying now that they won't remove it until the new year because it's politically impossible to do it now.
'The residents have this hanging over them until the new year – their Christmas is ruined either way. It could be cut off at any point and they know it will be in the new year. In the middle of winter? It doesn't make for a very nice Christmas.'
The people living on the island were given until last Friday to stop any planning breach – in short, move out of the basin – or the authority will apply to the courts for an injunction and eviction notices could be issued.
The land has been at the centre of a lengthy legal battle between landowner Roger Wood and the Broads Authority over its historic planning rights.
Mr Wood maintains planning permission remains from previous owners and the case has already been before two planning inspectors, with a High Court judge deeming the development unlawful.
The Court of Appeal refused permission to appeal that decision but there will be an oral hearing there in February to appeal that latest ruling.
Those living opposite the seven-acre site on the River Yare say their lives have become a nightmare because of the site's development and Broads Authority planners have voiced their support for them.
The dispute has cost the authority £90,000 to date, with an extra £20,000 now earmarked for the next phase.
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