Planning dispute leads to squatters and drug takers moving into old Asfordby property

Alain Bonamy at The Old Pump House at Asfordby which he wants to convert into a family home and smallholding EMN-180124-125526001
Alain Bonamy at The Old Pump House at Asfordby which he wants to convert into a family home and smallholding EMN-180124-125526001
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A man says a dispute over his family’s plans to move into a former Asfordby pump house has led to squatters and drug-takers moving into the property.

Alain Bonamy bought the Main Road building in 2012 after it had already been converted into a home without planning permission.

He applied for retrospective planning permission for the property and for change of use, but Melton Council refused both applications because of the building’s isolated location, and the lack of access to it.

Mr Bonamy’s subsequent planning application last year for a permanent track also failed after he was told he used the wrong form.

He says he has become increasingly frustrated with the situation and says the council should have done more to help him convert what has become a village eyesore into a valuable building on an eight-acre site where he wants to set up a smallholding.

Mr Bonamy said: “My property has been broken into by squatters three times - the council couldn’t do anything, nor the police as it still has a business use.

“Each time they have caused much damage to the property and the local environment, intimidated the locals and, even more seriously, they have been using the place for drug activity.

“Fortunately, no serious accidents have occurred. The only way to stop this unlawful behaviour is to have the property occupied.”

Mr Bonamy said he had been to court three times to evict squatters, which he described as ‘very upsetting and extremely costly’.

He added: “The only thing I would like to ask is to be able to live in my property with my family and use the land to make a living. I have registered it as a smallholding.”

Melton Council said it had been involved in lengthy correspondence with him.

Jim Worley, head of regulatory services, said: “We have sought to reassure Mr Bonamy that decisions on all planning applications are based only on planning grounds and no other influences have a bearing.

“This will also be the case for future applications and we can guarantee a fair assessment.”

He added: “Mr Bonamy has replied, and we will now be advising him the type of application and supporting information that will offer him the best prospect of success, though of course no guarantees can be given.”