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The Burrows and the Four Year Rule


Tells how Caradon used time and money
to prevent Tim Wilmot from benefiting from telling the truth
that he had lived at The Burrows for in excess of four years.


Tim Wilmot never intended to live for over four years at The Burrows,
as he intended to buy a farmhouse nearby,
but due to the actions of Caradon District Council,
he was left absolutely penniless.


It was sheer incompetence by the Planning Department
that enabled him to be there for more than four years,
as Les Kimberley, the Area Planning Officer,
had called in at The Burrows early-ish one morning,
when Tim Wilmot was still in bed.

Kimberley said that they had had reports
that people were living at The Burrows.

Tim Wilmot explained that he had bought The Burrows
pending the sale of his Yealmpton, Devon, property,
and intended to buy a farmhouse when he could.

In the meantime, he had considerable property in the buildings,
so when he was here, he was acting as nightwatchman.

Kimberley was perfectly happy with that,
suggesting that Tim Wimot make it less obvious that he was there
( drying laundry, for example ).


The Chief Planning Officer's nose was obviously put out of joint
by this exchange with Kimberley,
and the Enforcement leading to a Public Inquiry,
because he refers to it in his 1993 affidavit ( click here, then "back" ).

Tim Wilmot suggests that there was no dishonesty -
he was a resident nightwatchman.


Let us say that you have a building that is not a dwelling,
and you simply decide to live in it.

Let us say that it is a farm building.

Let us say that you install the normal things
that one would expect in a single dwelling.

Let us say that you live in it continuously for over four years
before the local council become aware that you are there,
and set in motion enforcement action
to remove you from the building.


What is the Four Year Rule?

The Four Year Rule is very simple -
if you have lived continuously in a building
that is a single dwelling
for more than four years,
and no enforcement action has been set in motion within the four year period,
then it is reckoned
that the use of the building as a single dwelling
is not causing harm to anyone,
and should therefore continue,
and be made lawful.

See how Evan Jones, Chartered Surveyors, put it ( in full ).

Evan Jones extract:-

"The law as it stands today
allows a single dwelling to gain immunity from enforcement
where it has been continuously occupied
for a period in excess of 4 years."


Tim Wilmot bought four acres of land called 'The Burrows',
with 12,000 square feet of buildings,
on 23 NOV 86.

He took possession within three days,
and had installed a multifuel cooker ( wood and coal ) within 14 days -
and a completely new stainless steel chimney through the roof -
and had receipts to prove it.

Tim Wilmot had a shop, with huge flat above, at Yealmpton, South Devon,
and had bought The Burrows to provide space for all of his business stock
before the Yealmpton property could be sold.

Tim Wilmot had a large stock of reclaimed building materiels,
and moved much of it by tractor and trailer over the 22 miles distance.

It was for this reason that right from Day One,
he required to be able to eat, wash, and sleep at The Burrows -
which is why he installed the cooker immediately.

Tim Wilmot found that he enjoyed being at The Burrows so much,
that the very focus of his life
shifted from Yealmpton to what was his new home.

The building he lived in
was of block construction under a corrugated tin roof,
roughly 100 feet long, and 18 feet wide.

It consisted of four rooms
that opened onto a south west-facing loading bay
about 90 feet long and 8 feet wide.
( measurements from memory ):-


Room 1 - size 18 x 18 - no windows - 2 x sliding metal doors hung from runners.

This is where the rabbits were unloaded from lorries, and killed.

Used mainly for storage, but on occasions for extra sleeping space.


Room 2 - size 18 x 18 - no windows.

Antique front door installed with stained glass ( cobalt blue and red ), some of it engraved.

Used as a general purpose living area by Tim Wilmot.


Cookers:- both multifuel and bottled gas.

Running hot water, and steel bath that could be put by the stove ( luxury! ).



Desk nine feet long, with bookcases above.

Double bed.

Kitchen cupboards.


Loo - there were two outside loos connected to the septic tank.

Everything needed to live in comfort!


Room 3 - size 24 x 18 - no windows - 1 x wide sliding door.

Was blast freezer and huge chillroom - later partially removed.

Used for guest sleeping and meditation ( as very well insulated ).


Room 4 - size 40 x 18 - no windows.

Originally 2 x hinged solid doors ( replaced with georgian-style glazed patio doors ).

Originally half open space and half a huge freezer, but Tim Wilmot sold the freezer.

Used for meetings and workshops ( light and airy space ).


Within two years, Tim Wilmot removed the paperboard ceilings
from rooms 1, 2, and 4,
and installed at considerable expense pine tounged-and-grooved timber -
and it looked fantastic.

Post was delivered to The Burrows from very early on,
and telephone was connected.

Water was not connected
as Tim Wilmot had thousands of square feet of roof to collect water from,
and brought drinking water from elsewhere.

Sewage disposal was by means of an existing septic tank.


In mid-November 1990, Caradon District Council's then Enforcement Officer, John Rowe,
contacted Tim Wilmot,
saying that he wished to visit The Burrows
to talk about occupation of the building as a dwelling.

Tim Wilmot arranged a date
that wasfour years and three days after he moved in on 23 NOV 86.

When Mr Rowe arrived,
Tim Wilmot served on him a Formal Notice
saying that Tim Wilmot had been at The Burrows in excess of four years,
and that he believed that he now had a right to remain.


Tim Wilmot thinks it fair to say
that this news was not over-welcomed by the council,
who moved over the next few months towards Enforcement action.

By the time that the action was passed by the Planning Committee,
several more months had passed,
and as the relevant date for the Four Year Rule
is the date of the Enforcement Action,
it meant that Tim Wilmot had been at The Burrows
for around four and a half years ( perhaps slightly longer ),
which made it easier for him to prove the four years.


Tim Wilmot wrote to the Planning Department
suggesting that they see his evidence
before they became locked in expensive legal battles
at ratepayers expense.

With the benefit of the Police Report to the CPS 1992,
we know that everything to do with Tim Wilmot
was co-ordinated by Tolley.

Tim Wilmot's suggestion was refused,
and the council opted for a full public inquiry
( the most expensive option ).


Caradon District Council hired a specialist planning solicitor
by the name of Robin Midgeley, of Bond, Pearce, & Co, Plymouth,
who Tim Wilmot was told was the best in the south west.


The Public Inquiry was held at Luxstowe House, Liskeard
( the council's main offices )
in the summer or autumn of 1991, from memory.

As a result of the council's actions towards him,
Tim Wilmot had no income at all,
and was moving steadily towards bankruptcy.

Cash was so tight,
Tim Wilmot could not afford photocopies,
and the Planning Inspector had to ask the council
to make sufficient copies of documentary evidence.


Tim Wilmot told the inspector the absolute truth.

He had occupied the building right from its purchase on 23 NOV 86,
and as it had become the new energy focus of his life
( because it represented freedom to Tim Wilmot ),
he had installed the multi-fuel cooker and chimney
within 14 days of occupation,
and bought coal, saw blades, plumbing and chimney fittings as well.

A cousin of Tim Wilmot, Ben Sparrow,
gave evidence that Tim Wilmot had moved from Yealmpton, Devon,
to The Burrows in 1986,
and to the best of his knowledge had not lived anywhere else since.

Ben told the story of how he had arrived to pick Tim Wilmot up,
to drive him down to his farm past Penzance one Christmas,
and as Tim Wilmot's labrador dog, Sam, had gone walkabout,
Tim Wilmot had gone off to find him,
leaving Ben sat in an armchair reading a book,
beside a roaring woodburning stove.


Mr Midgeley called Mr Rowe, the Enforcement Officer,
who told the Inquiry,
that, as he had seen Tim Wilmot walking with his dog
from the direction of Callington towards The Burrows,
it must mean that Tim Wilmot lived in Callington, not at The Burrows.

THAT was the entirety of Caradon District Council's case,
for which they paid a substantial fee.

They had no witnesses to say that Tim Wilmot lived elsewhere.

They had no documents such as rates, business rates, or poll tax,
to say that Tim Wilmot lived elsewhere.

They had absolutely NOTHING.


If you live at The Burrows,
and walk towards Callington with your dog,
you pass the garden centre site,
which Tim Wilmot owned and visited.

Tim Wilmot also frequently walked to Callington to shop,
and he owned a derelict shop at 20 Church Street, Callington,
where he would park his labrador while doing business.

Logically, having walked away from The Burrows,
at some point you must turn around to return home.

Hopefully, the logic of this is not lost on the reader.


Tim Wilmot can remember summing up his evidence,
and because the Council's case was so pathetically weak,
he asked for costs.

That was how weak their case was!


The Planning Inspector ( a solicitor ) disappeared for a few months
before sending his decision.

The decision was that Tim Wilmot had failed to prove
that he had been at The Burrows in excess of four years.

The Council had won.


Once again, the system had stuffed Tim Wilmot,
and this time directly contrary to all of the evidence.

Tim Wilmot has often wondered if the Planning Inspector
was briefed on the difficulties the council found itself in,
and how those difficulties would get considerably worse
if Tim Wilmot got a financial shot in the arm
by making the occupation of the building as a dwelling lawful.

It would have added £30,000 - £50,000 to the value of the property,
and enabled Tim Wilmot to carry out improvements
that would have brought in much-needed rent.


Tim Wilmot says that it was one hard blow amongst many,
and yet another example of how truth is trashed by the system.

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