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  6. Boat or building? Broads test case says the latter

Boat or building? Broads test case says the latter

A planning inspector has upheld the stance of the Broads Authority that a two-storey wooden structure built on a barge in a residential area of Norwich is a building not a boat and requires planning permission.

Peter and Jane Collins were issued with an enforcement notice to dismantle the wooden structure moored on the river Yare last year because the planning authority argued it was unauthorised development.

The couple appealed against the enforcement notice on the grounds that the structure floated and was therefore a boat.

However, the inspector who held the appeal inquiry agreed with the Broads Authority. The Inspector reported: “The works that have been carried out do not appear to have involved the fitting out of a boat or vessel for the purposes of navigation or travelling over water. The works do not appear to include the provision of any means of propulsion or navigation aids and there is a notable absence of the equipment one might expect to find on a boat or vessel intended for navigation.”

The inspector concluded: “In effect the barge has been subsumed beneath a two-storey structure intended as a holiday home. Overall I share the Authority’s view that the appeal structure is not a boat or vessel. The fact that the structure is capable of floating does not imply that it is immune from normal planning controls. The fact remains that not everything that floats is a boat.”

The Collins now have two months to dismantle and remove the structure. Failure to comply will be a criminal offence and the owner will be liable for prosecution but the Broads Authority is hopeful that it will be removed voluntarily and no legal action will be needed.

Cally Smith, head of development and regeneration, said: “The owner appealed against our enforcement notice because he said the structure was capable of navigation. The decision which has been received supports the view of the Broads Authority that the structure is not a boat and therefore our action has been ratified.”


Roger Milne

27 January 2011