A property developer has failed in a legal challenge against an order to remove a log cabin built in his garden without planning permission.
Michael Taggart was seeking to overturn a decision by the Planning Appeals Commission (PAC) which upheld an enforcement notice over the unauthorised construction at Legavallen Road, Dungiven, Co Derry.
Lawyers for Mr Taggart had claimed in the High Court there was a potential misapplication of policy. Further grounds of challenge centred on whether the building was immune from planning enforcement, alleged inconsistencies in the decision making process, and whether enforcement required its complete removal. But Mr Justice Treacy rejected claims the decision was unlawful and ruled the judicial review should be dismissed.
In his judgement, he said: “The commissioner formed the view that although the applicant's building was described as a|summer pavilion it was more than simply a garden room or gazebo.
“It was a substantial and fully fitted two-storey building and was capable of use as a separate dwelling unit and for planning purposes fell to be treated as self-contained accommodation.”
The court heard how its construction was noticed in November, 2005, during an inspection at Mr Taggart's home by officials for an unrelated application.
The building was glazed, with mains water and electrical supply fittings. Downstairs consisted of a living/playroom area with a fireplace, a kitchen and a storage area. The upper level had a room which was taken to be a bedroom.
Mr Justice Treacy pointed out that applications for retrospective planning permission have been rejected. He noted the policy framework for development in the countryside, and said: “It is immaterial whether the farm complex and dwelling (at) the end of the lane are in the ownership of the applicant's family.”
He said the commissioner had identified an inappropriate building which could not be dealt with by removal of the veranda.
Mr Justice Treacy added: “I accept the respondent's contention that the only means by which to remedy the breach, restore the land to the condition it was in beforehand and remedy the injury to amenity was to require the removal of the structure.”
”In a similar vein moving the structure to another location would not remedy the breach.
“In any event, as the respondent has pointed out, it would not be possible to move the cabin since this would still require planning permission in the new location.”
Michael Taggart and his brother John owned Taggart Holdings, which went into administration in 2008 owing £300m. Since the collapse of Taggart Holdings, Michael Taggart has gone back into property development in the Irish Republic.