Pensioner taken ill as council arrives to demolish home

Emma Woollacott

A council has called off the demolition of a pensioner's mobile home after she was taken ill as its workers arrived.

Beryl Larkin, 71, has lived for 19 years in a caravan in a field she owns in the village of Treuddyn, near Mold, in North Wales.

But she was due to be evicted yesterday by Flintshire council, as she lacks the necessary planning permission. And, says the council, it wouldn't be possible to move the caravan because of its poor state of repair, meaning it had to be destroyed instead.

However, when demolition workers arrived, Mrs Larkin was taken ill with chest pains and paramedics were called. The council has now backed off - albeit temporarily.

"The officers sought to speak to Mrs Larkin and her representatives but before any discussions could take place Mrs Larkin was taken ill. In the circumstances and on the advice of North Wales Police the action was suspended," Andrew Farrow, chief officer for planning and environment, told the Daily Post.

"The council will now be considering its options, including an offer from the Larkin family that they will ensure that the enforcement notice is complied with. That remains the priority for the council."

Mrs Larkin originally shared the caravan with her brother, and the pair applied for temporary planning consent to remain there during his life-time. However, in 2002, he died - after consent was agreed but before it was issued.

Mrs Larkin has already been prosecuted twice for failing to get rid of the caravan. She submitted another planning application earlier this week but was told it was invalid. Any legal challenge to the council's October 2013 ruling should have been brought within three months, it said.

The council has the power to clear the site and send Mrs Larkin the bill. But Mrs Larkin's family say they can clear the site - including removing the caravan intact - for far less than the £19,000 price the council has quoted.

Caravans don't normally require planning permission - unless, as in this case, they're a person's main home. But there can also be other considerations. Recently, for example, planners in Deal, Kent, ordered Audrey Sells to remove the 28-foot mobile home she was using as a granny annexe for her mother: it was 'dominant and incongruous', they ruled.

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