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Durham area? Hope you will complain to your Council

(90 Posts)
biba70 Tue 13-Oct-20 16:17:30

So the Cummings family not only broke planning laws and built a very large property on their land without permission- but the Council has now ruled that they will not have to pay back council taxes on said property. 50.000 that could have gone towards social care, the elderly, schools and so much more.

Hope all of you will write to Council or request appointment with your MP to make a very strong complaint and ask for this to be reviewed asap.

Hetty58 Tue 13-Oct-20 23:00:58

My neighbours built something entirely different from their plans. They must have been advised that they'd get away with it.

A council officer said that enforcement action would certainly be taken to correct the 'breach' of planning.

Nothing changed, and when I asked about the outcome - apparently they had said that they couldn't afford to put it right (they could, just didn't want to).

End of story - planning rules are a joke!

Callistemon Tue 13-Oct-20 23:03:51

Was anyone living in the house? Was it finished to a state that was habitable?
An empty homes premium could be charged but perhaps it was left unfinished deliberately. A Completion Notice could be issued, however.

GagaJo Wed 14-Oct-20 09:05:50

Ironic. While my house was being gutted and uninhabitable, I still paid 25% council tax.

Septimia Wed 14-Oct-20 09:23:54

Galaxy that probably wasn't the best choice of words, but it was a lot more polite than what I was thinking.

I had a lot of respect for both her predecessors - and I didn't even vote for them.

Froglady Wed 14-Oct-20 09:29:11

In some cases where things like this have happened, the people have had to remove the offending buildings! Why hasn't this happened here? And as for waiving the extra council tax, that takes it to another 'corrupt' level.

lemongrove Wed 14-Oct-20 09:35:32

Hetty Yes, a similar thing happened in my village, an extension to a house turned quietly into two separate houses.
Neighbours complained, work on the houses stopped for six months and then resumed.Nothing was done to stop it.

lemongrove Wed 14-Oct-20 09:37:57

I think you would need to understand all the fine details about planning laws and procedures to get to the bottom of various cases, it’s certainly complicated.

Callistemon Wed 14-Oct-20 09:58:30


Ironic. While my house was being gutted and uninhabitable, I still paid 25% council tax.

I think it depends on the Council and how they interpret the rules, Gagojo.
That sounds unduly harsh.

In fact I'd be checking the small print!

trisher Wed 14-Oct-20 10:08:24

Strange isn't it? once upon a time the council was so keen to pull down buildings without planning permission one of its officers was murdered in the course of his job.
Now no one cares.

MaizieD Wed 14-Oct-20 10:50:13


In some cases where things like this have happened, the people have had to remove the offending buildings! Why hasn't this happened here? And as for waiving the extra council tax, that takes it to another 'corrupt' level.

If you'd read the large extract I copied from the government planning site you would see that there is a time limit of up to 10 years for councils to order demolition. At least one of the properties was built in 2002 (Cummings blogged about it). The other one is presumably out of time, too.

MaizieD Wed 14-Oct-20 10:51:26

Same applies, trisher. There is a time limit on these things.

MaizieD Wed 14-Oct-20 10:52:58

Doesn't anybody read the thread?

Should I have put a dreaded link to the government extract? I wasn't making it up.

25Avalon Wed 14-Oct-20 11:36:10

I have read the thread MaizieD. Perhaps the buildings would have been given planning consent had it been asked for,which clearly it was not, as they do not intrude on public amenities.

As it is planning rules are so often ignored and the planners let people get away with it usually by people who know how to play the system. We have a small business park near us and the owners never ask for planning permission for extending. They just go ahead and should anyone complain to the Council he gets away with it because it offers employment. But you do it right as a house owner you can get all sorts of things chucked at you.

trisher Wed 14-Oct-20 12:41:24

MaizieD There may be a time limit but does it not strike you as strange that these buildings should have been completely overlooked by everyone? Isn't it just posssible that the council actually knew but didn't bother because of the substantial amount owned by the Cummings family and their connections?

Jaberwok Wed 14-Oct-20 13:09:43

On come on! All this outrage is only because of who it is! Anyone else would hardly get a mention. Apart from council tax going forward, the property is way out of time for any other action! Sorry to disapoint!

parkersheen Wed 14-Oct-20 13:20:40

I do wonder if Conservative voters can in all honesty justify the behaviour of those they have elected? I strongly suspect that behind the scenes (and in plain sight) many of the 'elite' are squirreling away money and transferring savings before the Brexit deadline. They have already awarded huge contracts to private companies which they themselves or friends have vested interests in only for these companies to fail to deliver - where did the money go? I think a lot of us British people are very happy to point the finger at other countries whose leaders are openly 'crooked' and now we are very much in the same boat with apparently no recourse.

biba70 Wed 14-Oct-20 13:42:56

lemongrove, it is not complicated, at all. The Law is clear that Councils can go back way beyond 4 years, in the case of deliberate concealement and fraud. Maizie's quote of the Law is VERY clear on this.

Where I live is totally irrelevant in this case. That unpaid tax does not belong to the Council, it belongs to the services of the local people in the region- and could have been used for schools, social or other services. Jaberwork, hence the 'outrage' - of course the fact it is Cummings, who is currently causing so much damage to the people of the UK, is relevant- VERY much so.

Jaberwok Wed 14-Oct-20 14:04:52

That's a matter of opinion biba. In this country we are still allowed opinions that differ from other people, I've no idea about Switzerland! As for planning law, this changes over the course of time and proving anything going back nearly 20 years can be extremely difficult particularly for peop!e who haven't a clue about the circumstances or the appropriate law at that time. Witch hunts are never attractive!

biba70 Wed 14-Oct-20 14:12:39

It is not a matter of opinion, but planning Law- re fraud and deliberate concealement.

MaizieD Wed 14-Oct-20 14:15:28

trisher, the Cummings' buildings are hidden from the road by hedges and would be fairly difficult to spot. It's a busy dual carriageway, not many people on foot go past the house. Their nearest neighbours about half a mile north up the road is a farmyard development, funnily enough originally owned and developed by another branch of the family. So they weren't likely to sprag were they?
It's a relatively isolated spot. Nothing across the road from them or for a considerable distance to the south.

Besides which, who bothers to investigate the legality of new building works? You just assume that it's all above board.

trisher Wed 14-Oct-20 14:33:39

Well MaizieD the builder, whoever did the designs, other trades people etc might reasonably have been expected to know about the buildings. Indeed reputable builders are keen to know about planning and building regs, because they make contacts and attract business, by talking about, and showing, their work. So somebody must have been dropped a back hander to keep quiet. It may be an isolated spot but in isolated spots any activity is big news and is always talked about..

Jaberwok Wed 14-Oct-20 15:24:54

And you definitely know all this trisher?! FGS it was 20 years ago, who knows the circumstances, they or it, possibly had a section 50 put on them as farm properties quite often did, the builders have possibly ceased to do exist long ago, neighbours too! you are in fact making particular allegations to which you have no first hand knowledge only generilisation and shed loads of prejudice.

Georgesgran Wed 14-Oct-20 15:47:31

MazieD is right - the house on the front of the site actually looks like a little cottage, but I’m sure it’s got a swimming pool - it did have one years ago, when it changed hands.
Planning rules are rubbish around here. Friend’s live near an old Garden Centre which traded as caravan storage without permission. It’s in a green belt, but permission’s now been given, without informing the nearest dwellings to demolish it and turn the site into a Builders Merchants.

On our local news, the PA said it didn’t comment on individual cases and The Cummings Family declined to comment - I bet they did!!

trisher Wed 14-Oct-20 16:11:59

Jaberwok Wow who pushed your buttons! I only know from personal experience that builders often have close contacts with the council dept in the areas where they work because they are constantly approaching them about work they are doing. Of course the builders may have gone, the council staff will have changed as well, that doesn't mean nothing was known when the building work was done.
Why is it OK to say that nothing was known, but wrong to say that possibly things were known but ignored? No one knows what went on.
It's 30 years since the council worker was killed in the course of his work. So there were some regulations being enforced. Just not for the Cummings.

biba70 Wed 14-Oct-20 16:46:41

Jaberwok, if it was all above board, then it would be esay for the family to agree to comment and just explain how and why it is.

And that is why if I lived in the region, and was a tax payer, I would not let this one drop. That unpaid money belongs to all, and especially those who do things legally and above board, honestly, and pay their dues- for all the local services.