A MILFORD Haven man who fitted wheels to his garden shed to outwit planning officers after being advised to by a council officer, has overturned a decision that he breached planning rules.

James Kershaw of Pill Priory, Lower Priory, had claimed that, by adding the wheels, the shed was no longer a building and therefore not subject to planning regulations.

Back in June he was convicted of not complying with an Enforcement Notice issued by Pembrokeshire County Council and fined £700.

District Judge Chris James, at Llanrelli magistrates, found for the council on all arguments, including that the defendant had added the wheels after the Enforcement Notice’s compliance period.

Last Friday, August 23, an appeal hearing at Swansea Crown Court found the council’s prosecution of Mr Kershaw was an abuse of process.

The court accepted Mr Kershaw put wheels on the shed in January 2018, relying on the advice given to him by a council officer, who previously told him that, provided he placed the shed on wheels, there would be no problems with planning enforcement.

The Judge decided that it would bring the administration of justice into disrepute to allow the planning authority to prosecute Mr Kershaw.

Mr Kershaw, who was awarded substantial costs, said after the hearing: “The judge made the only fair and reasonable decision he could have in this case.

“The council’s incompetence has cost the local taxpayer over £10,000.

“ I’m ‘wheelie’ pleased the case just ‘rolled’ along;

looking forward to getting my substantial costs back.

“The shed doesn’t harm anyone and is a mobile, movable structure which replaces a more permanent shed which was dilapidated and in the same location.”

“I hope the council can concentrate now on more pressing issues like sorting out the flood risk at Lower Priory.”

“The council’s planning department, who were keen to prosecute me, are responsible in part for the flooding which affected so many people last year in my neighbourhood; they allowed development lower downstream at Haven’s Head Business Park.” Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Infrastructure, Phil Baker, said: “While accepting the court’s decision, the council wishes to point out that the ruling hinged on a legal argument over process due to the discovery of advice provided by a planning officer given to the applicant during the planning application.

“The Appeal Judge determined that this subsequently invalidated the Authority’s ability to bring a prosecution.”

Councillor Baker explained: “The Council is keen to stress that it should not be accepted that the outcome of this case implies that by adding wheels to a structure that it is no longer a building and therefore not subject to planning regulations.”

He added that the planning officer in question is no longer employed by the Authority.