A property built without planning permission in Whittington must be demolished, a court has ruled.
Lichfield District Council won the battle at the Royal Court of Justice in London, becoming one of the first local authorities to successfully obtain an enforcement order on the grounds of deliberate concealment.
The issue came to light last year after council officers discovered that a single-storey house had been built with permission in the green belt in 2008.
The property, known as Squirrel Cabin, is in an isolated position on the grounds of Tamhorn Park Farm in Whittington. It is only accessible via a private road with a locked gate and is surrounded by trees.
An order was granted by a district judge in Cannock before the landowners appealed in the High Court – which has this month found in favour of Lichfield District Council, granted the enforcement order and awarded the local authority £14,000 in costs.
Councillor Ian Pritchard, Cabinet member for economic growth, development and environment, said: “This is a landmark ruling and we’re pleased the High Court has rejected this legal challenge, reinforcing the need to always go through the proper channels when planning any building work.
“In court we presented evidence which showed that the landowners had gone out of their way to conceal their unauthorised property from council officers.
“This judgment should help communities up and down the country to safeguard their landscapes from unauthorised development.”
Since the order was granted, the council has served an enforcement notice requiring the owners to demolish the unauthorised building.