WAS it built as a barn or was it built with the intention of turning it into a new house in the countryside?
If it was a barn, then why did it originally have a dormer window, a staircase and a balcony?
Barrister Brett Williamson asked a jury at Mold Crown Court: “Why would cows want a balcony overlooking a pond?”
Wrexham businessman Dale Peters, 38, ended up with a £6,000 court bill yesterday after he was convicted of failing to comply with a planning enforcement notice to modify his barn.
Peters, formerly of the Seven Sisters pub in Chester Street, Wrexham, but now living in Bersham, pleaded not guilty and said he had done what he could to comply.
He said he had built the barn out of blocks for which he had been given planning consent at Dale Wood Brooke, Smithy Lane, Pentrebychan.
Peters told the jury he had been busy running a pub and a gym at the time.
However, he had removed the stairs, the balcony and the window from the building, which he built as a barn as part of a smallholding.
Peters said he also had other things on his mind at the time. He had tragically lost a son, and he also had to visit his mother in Spain because she had cancer.
He said he did not have the money to reduce the height of the block walls.
However, in evidence he also said he thought that the enforcement notice issued by Wrexham Council was wrong. He believed the original plans allowed block work walls.
Mr Williamson said the enforcement notice had been issued, Peters had appealed against it and the appeal was dismissed by the planning inspectorate for Wales.
Peters had previously admitted the same offence from February 2008 to July 2008 in the magistrates’ court where he had been given a conditional discharge.
The present offence ran from July 2008 to January of this year.
Peters was fined £2,000 with £4,000 costs.
Judge Gareth Jones told Peters he had to appreciate that planning enforcement legislation applied to him as much as everyone else. It was the second time he had breached the order.
It was, in effect, a continuing offence each day that passed and there was nothing to stop the council prosecuting him again next week or the week after that, until he complied with the order.
The judge said: “It is important that you take steps immediately.”
It was not going to take much to reduce the level of the block work and replace the upper walls with corrugated sheeting, as was required by the barn’s planning consent.
“It will be a lot cheaper than coming back to court to face a further financial penalty,” he said.
The council had claimed £7,200 costs which was disputed by defence barrister James Cullan.
Mr Cullan said his client was now a partner in a shot blasting company taking out a limited income.
Peters was ordered to pay the £6,000 bill off at £50 a week or face 45 days imprisonment.
Mr Cullan had earlier told the jury they would have to consider whether the council was justified in taking action against his client at taxpayers’ expense over the height of the barn walls.