Nightmare holiday homes builder fined

Homes built at Poultons Farm in Nateby, near Garstang, have proved controversial
Homes built at Poultons Farm in Nateby, near Garstang, have proved controversial
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The cottage properties were advertised as the perfect retirement country retreat.

Situated in the picture postcard village of Nateby with its views of the River Wyre and Lancaster Canal the adverts for five homes built in a farmyard were always going to tempt buyers.

The price seemed a bargain £199,950 but the true price of the purchase was revealed at court with one buyer faced with a loss of £55,000 in six months.

For she should never have moved into the house in the first place.

For the unlucky purchasers bought into a nightmare involving the developer, an estate agent, solicitors and the local authority.

Before the court, was 53-year-old builder, Andrew Dunn of Lower Lane, Longridge, who admitted two offences brought by Lancashire County Council under Trading Standards legislation.

He pleaded guilty to making a false statement under the Misdescriptions Act about the cottages - that they had unrestricted occupation - in an advert in the window of estate agent Graham Parkinson who handled the sales.

He admitted a further offence under the same act for a similar advert on Internet site, Right Moves.

Mr Parkinson was also summonsed but the action against him was dropped by trading standards because he was medically unfit.

Prosecutor Nick McNamara told District Judge Rod Ross Dunn’s company, Rand Ltd, had built the homes. Their original planning permission said the properties were for short stay holiday accommodation only.

In 2009 that restriction was removed and the restriction was changed to holiday use as long as the homes were not used as a primary or sole residence which would mean anyone buying would have to have another home and only live at Poulton Farm for 11 months a year.

The prosecutor said: ”What happened next was false and misleading. Local estate agent Graham Parkinson was asked to market the houses which he did so as ideal country and retirement retreats. However, at some stage the advert stated unrestricted occupation. This was not true.

“An elderly couple, the Worthingtons, bought one for £185,000 and moved in during June 2010.”

“However in early 2011 they received a letter from the local authority saying they were occupying in breach of planning conditions.”

“A second home was bought by a widow, Mrs Millington who saw it advertised on the Internet. She moved in and then she too received a letter from the council telling her she should not be there.

“There is no doubt Dunn and Parkinson knew about this restriction. However Mr Dunn claimed he had relied on Parkinson’s experience, skill and expertise.”

“There is also no doubt the restriction should have been picked up during the course of conveyancy but that was not the case and the two couple are taking actions against the solicitors involved.”

“What is clear is that a property without restriction is worth more than one with it.

“In Mrs Millington’s case she should have paid £150,000 not £180,000. She has since sold for £135,000 and has made a £55,000 loss in six months. She has had £40,000 payment from her solicitors but remains £15,000 out of pocket.”

Stephen Scott, defending, said: ”My client has been a builder for many years he accepts he has been negligent in the production of the advertising details. ”

Mr Dunn was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £1,645 costs.