Peter and Jane Collins were issued with an enforcement notice to dismantle the wooden structure in July last year because it was an unauthorised development. The couple, who say the barge is intended to be a holiday home, appealed against the enforcement notice on the grounds that the structure floated and was therefore a boat.
The structure, attached to Thorpe Island, is clearly visible from the road at Thorpe River Green, the garden of the Rushcutters public house and the railway line out of Norwich.
The Inspector states: “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 height and bulk of the structure... has compromised its ability to navigate and its unwieldy nature suggests that it could only be manoeuvred with some difficulty. 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 inspector confirms that the couple’s plan was to keep the barge on its mooring as a ‘holiday home.’
They 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. The Broads Authority is hopeful that it will be removed voluntarily and no legal action will be required.
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.”
this article first featured on Towpath talk.