The man who disguised his house as a barn and then claimed that the local council was ‘out of time’ to take action with regard to the breach of the planning permission has lost his case in the Supreme Court.

Having obtained planning permission to build a barn, the man built what looked like a barn from the outside, but it was actually a three-bedroomed house.

He and his wife lived there for four years, during which time the local authority was unaware of the breach of the planning permission. The couple then applied for a certificate of lawful use on the ground that the council had not taken any action with regard to the breach within the four-year period laid down by statute for doing so. Obtaining a certificate would legitimise use of the property as a dwelling.

The key element of the Supreme Court’s judgment was that despite the apparently clear wording of the relevant legislation, the dishonesty exhibited by the couple was so far beyond the contemplation of the framers of the legislation that the council was given permission not only to prevent the continued occupation of the property as a dwelling but also to require its demolition.

The Supreme Court has indicated, in the clearest possible terms, that people who attempt to obtain a certificate of lawful use through deceitful actions will not succeed.