URGENT Open Letter to Warwick District Council from Tiffany Belle Harper
Having worked for many years as a Landscape Gardener – of March 2015 my son’s dream came true when he found his ideal home. A small pub in a residential part of Leamington Spa. The plan being to turn it into two homes. Live on the first floor, whilst converting the ground floor to a flat. On locating the premises my son removed the bar and all ‘pub’ fitments – creating a blank space to begin his project.
What begun as a endured result of much hard work has now cost him his health and almost his small business in the community. This is where I have no choice but to step in – make aware the unacceptable circumstances brought to my son – beyond comprehension.
On July 2015 my son was granted planning permission to change the property from a Public House to a flat.
Despite this, Warwick District Council continued to issue a monthly rateable ‘payable’ value of £640.00 per month for the ‘by now’ empty ground floor and a further £100 for the top floor. A common monthly wage for many people.
My son ‘still’ tirelessly tries to liaise with Warwick District Council – explaining the house is no longer a pub, but to no avail.
December 2015 (7 months after purchase) Warwick District Council contacted their outsourced Value Office Agency to assess my son’s property and confirm it was no longer a pub. The visit from the Value Office Agency did not take place until June of 2016. (Another 7 months later.) By now rateable arrears to my son had resulted in a debt (allegedly owed) to Warwick District Council of several thousand pounds. My son not paying this until the correct Council Band had been applied.
By this time my son had made introduction with an Architect’s company to put in place the conversion of the property.
He’s spent almost £20,000 so far on fees, new windows and renovation. Assuming that when he bought the property he could ‘get on with’ his project. Yet … with no support from Warwick District Council. He went to great lengths to gain permission from Warwick District Council to change the pub to flats. Bearing in mind that whilst trying to break through the red tape, my son also employs 6 people to help manage his gardening business and has to find their wages each week.
Subsequently he became overwhelmed with the pressure. By now a Court Summons arriving together with red bill demands piling through his letterbox (for which I am now in receipt.) Each time, my son explaining, the property is no longer a pub, providing the papers to show he had successfully received an initial approval of planning permission to go ahead and convert of July 2015. (Over 12 months ago.)
June of 2016 a recruit from the planning office arrives (7 months after first contact) to assess the property that is not a pub. the man denied my son rights to have a reduced rating listing claiming that, ‘until it becomes a flat this cannot go ahead.’ So, my son stuck with a blank property that is neither a flat or pub is expected to pay £740.00 (total) ongoing monthly rates. My son asked the representative of the planning office what he had to do to get approval that his home is not a pub but the guy didn’t seem to know, but mentioned that perhaps if he had soundproofing and removed the radiators this may help?
Being self employed my son then had a couple of bad payers in his gardening business that started to affect his cash flow. Struggling to find £740.00 per month (he had not anticipated within his carefully planned expenditure.) This also meant he could not afford the architect’s plans to push ahead with the property renovation.
With an increase in pressure and letters from Warwick District Council bringing this to date. My son has now been referred to Warwick District Council debt recovery agency Bristow and Sutor, who gave notice they would enter my son’s home and start taking his furniture and possessions. My son contacted Bristow and Sutor where they have agreed he must pay £191.00 a week to Warwick District Council. To continue paying for his home as though it is a public house? My son is not a landlord, he is a gardener.
My son is not able to speak with Roger Trippass for further assistance as for some time now has been told by the Valuation Office Agency that Roger Trippass is off sick and they don’t know when he’s coming back. That one of their team members will be in touch shortly. The last contact being made when my son (once more) tried to call their office for advice last week.
My son has become unwell. He has lost 3 stone in weight and has tooth abscesses that the dentist claim are as a result of stress. He wants to sell the property and is having it valued. It’s been awful for him. There’s no help from any of you at Warwick District Council. His credit rating could be affected and he’s expected to pay a backlog to you for a property that he has never used as a pub.
This is the space. Does it look like a pub to you?
Do you think this is acceptable?
I am making this blog public. We do not have or feel we should pay for legal representation. How can one young man represent himself against Warwick District Council. There’s clearly a dreadful breakdown in communication here.
I am also contacting Chris White MP for Leamington Spa. My means will also be shared via Social Media platforms. As a parent I have no other option but to do what I can for my son. At the moment his future is uncertain due to knots in a project that would otherwise be straightforward with the right help from Warwick District Council. I feel that when someone’s health and work suffers due to non-movement in a set of circumstances, others should be aware. My son wishes to pay his rates for a dwelling not a pub.
As a matter of urgency I call upon Warwick District Council to speak with me. Please contact me directly by my email address to conclude this appalling situation before the end of this working week when I will be updating my blog accordingly. Hopefully, with better news.
My son has been trying to talk with someone for 15 months and Warwick District Council have responded with debt collectors and Court Summons. It’s beyond cruelty.
Without bias – Tiffany Harper.