Cummings “Spare Cottage” Without Planning Permission and Pays No Council Tax

Dominic Cummings Cottage
Listen to This Article
Voiced by Amazon Polly

Dominic Cummimgs; a Special Advisor to the Prime Minister, made it clear that he had stayed at a “spare cottage” at his father’s farm when he addressed allegations that he had broken lockdown restrictions in April. In an Exclusive, I can now reveal that the cottage in question is not registered for Council Tax, nor has planning permission be sought for the cottage from Durham County Council.

I recently wrote how the “spare cottage” that Dominic Cummings stated he stayed at on his father’s farm near Durham, is in-fact jointly owned by himself and his family. This would therefore make Mr Cummings trip less of a journey for childcare, and more one to a second home, something was strictly prohibited at the time he travelled 260 miles north from London.

Whilst I was investigating the property’s ownership, I noticed something odd. Nowhere, on any database, does the cottage show up as a property in its own right. What makes it even easier is that Cummings’ father’s farm at North Lodge, is the only property in the entire postcode.

No Council Tax

This is a search of the postcode DH1 3SU and it shows that there is only one property registered for council tax at Dominic Cummings father's farm, despite there being two properties.
A search of the postcode DH1 3SU yields just one result; North Lodge

My first stop was to check if the property was registered for Council tax. The government website direct.gov has a facility for you to search a postcode to find a properties Council Tax Band.

A search of DH1 3SU, the postcode of the property jointly owned by Dominic Cummings, yields just one result; North Lodge. In the entire postcode, only the single Cummings property is listed as Band D. So lets take a look at an aerial photograph of North Lodge.

An Aerial Image of North Lodge. The Green Roofed Building is where Cummings is believed to have stayed.

Above is an aerial view of the Cummings’ property. As can be seen there are two distinct buildings. The main building on the right, is North Lodge itself, this was confirmed when I obtained the property deeds form HM Land Registry. On the left is the distinct green roofed building, better known as the “spare cottage” Dominic Cummings and his family are believed to have stayed in whilst away from London. Below is a photograph taken of the cottage from outside the property, it quite clearly shows that it not a shed or farm building.

Dominic Cummings Cottage in Durham
Credit: North News and Pictures Northern.

Cummings himself has stated that he stayed in a separate cottage, this in itself helps in proving that it is a separate building used for human habitation. Durham County Council has no record of this building having been registered for Council tax, nor has an exemption been sought.

No Evidence of Planning Consent

Secondly, I looked into whether the cottage had planning permission. To start with I obtained the plans and deeds from HM Land Registry. As can be seen below, the deeds in 1983 show no additional building, and in 2013 when Mr Cummings was shown to be owner, no mention of a second property is made.

Below is the full documentation which I obtained from HM Land Registry. The Cummings family are the owners of two plots at North Lodge.

What is most important in this instance, is the Land Registry having a stipulation that “ANY structure” requires written permission prior to construction from the UK Coal Authority (UKCA). I contacted the UKCA earlier in the week and can confirm that no permission has been sought for a structure in the area the green roofed building exists.

I then took to Durham County Council’s very easy to use Planning Portal. Searching the postcode, again only the single property showed up. Looking through the planning applications, there is no mention of an outbuilding or cottage.

I contacted Durham County Council’s Planning Department to confirm that there is no planning permission, but received no response. This is understandable given current circumstances. However, their planning portal is very accurate and covers a long period. As can be seen from previous photographs, the cottage is not in its elder years. In addition, the Land Registry notes that the land the property lies on is a Conservation Zone. Therefore, it is even more important that permission should have been sought.

I have spoken to an official from a Council Planning Department in England who states that; it is possible, if not likely, that planning permission would have been/be rejected due to the following issues.

  • Increased traffic on/off trunk road.
  • Building not in fitting with Conservation Zone
  • No permission from UK Coal Authority

Furthermore, it is unlikely that the cottage has permission, as if it did, the local authority would be well aware of it and Council Tax would be being levied against the property. The cottage is on no database that I can find, only the main property, which itself is considerably larger than it was in 1983 can be found.

Council Tax in England is decided on the what the property’s value would have been in April 1991. In the case of North Lodge, it has been assessed as Band D, which the government website tells us means the property would have sold for between £68,001 to £88,000 in April 1991. Whilst the original significantly smaller North Lodge may have fallen within this valuation, the extended and much more lavish lodge of today certainly would not. It’s current valuation is around £650,000, and this doesn’t take into account the “spare cottage” and other connected annexes they claim to have. It is important to note also, that any annex attached to the main building that is not used by a dependent family member, should also be registered for Council Tax.

In addition, the cottage is constructed on a separate piece of land to the main residence. This highlights it as being less ancillary to the main residence, and more of a separate domestic dwelling in its own right.

Whilst agricultural properties do have some exemptions around planning, the UKCA stipulation for prior consent, and the building being in a Natural Heritage Conservation Zone, voids any exemption that may have applied.

This once again shows that Dominic Cummings operates a do as I say, not as I do policy. Whilst this would normally be a damning indictment on a senior government advisor, Boris Johnson has shown that Cummings is indispensable and will be protected at all costs. It makes you wonder what he’s so scared of.

UPDATE: June 2nd 2020.

Durham County Council have confirmed they have opened an investigation into the Cottage. FULL STORY HERE

UPDATE

Durham County Council have CONFIRMED that planning permission was not correct and that it will be re-valued for Council tax.

So now we can officially day that Dominic Cummings travelled to a home he owns a d that has been avoiding Council Tax for an undetermined number of years.

Please share this exclusive article as mainstream outlets are refusing to cite me.

All of my writing is unpaid, I don’t have any big groups or companies backing me and this means I am truly independent. If you find this article helpful and informative, please consider making a small donation to help support my writing. You can also sponsor me if you’d like to help towards the long term sustainability of the site.

164 comments

  • This is very interesting. I run a Facebook Group called “Stop Media Bias Against Labour”. I have previously posted in our group an article by you, which I found very interesting with the headline “DOMINIC CUMMINGS OWNS “SPARE COTTAGE” IN DURHAM” This new post is an extension of the previous one. I thought that the key point of your previous post was that if Cummings owned the “spare cottage” then it becomes a second home, which broke the conditions of the lockdown. Nobody else seemed to pick up on this. Catherine Calderwood stepped down as Scotland’s chief medical officer after visiting her second home twice despite advice to stay in. Her journey was short compared to that of Cummings. The story of Cummings owning the “spare cottage” becomes an even bigger story if he had no planning permission for the building of the house and if he pays no council tax on the property. If true, this should be a big story.

    • Alex Tiffin - @RespectIsVital

      Thank you John. J have put a lot of effort into researching this and I’m confident of the facts. As you can see, I’ve been careful to enclose all the evidence so as to allow people to make an informed decision. I really appreciate you commenting and I use your page regularly.

      Alex

      • This is a non-story. If the building has been in continuous residential use for more than 4 years, it doesn’t need planning permission. If that use (as appears to be the case) is ancillary to the main dwelling, it would not be separately registered for council tax. You seem to have researched everything except the actual law.

        • Alex Tiffin - @RespectIsVital

          It’s in a Conservation Zone. The title deed states any structure requires written permission from the UK Coal Authority before construction, it doesn’t have that. It’s not an ancillary to the main property as Cummings himself calls it a “spare cottage”. importantly, It has its OWN mprn for electricity. It is not registered for letting or business rates.

        • It’s ten years for residential use.

        • Mr Peter J Napier

          Possibly not true. If the change of use was concealed from the LPA the lawful use certificate might not be issued. I have personal experience of how many hoops you have to go through before an unlawful use can be legitimised.

          Also, surely the point is that this is another elitist cocking a snoot at the rules normal folk have to adhere to.

          It is also quite probable that PP for a separate cottage would have been refused if nothing else because of
          intensification of use and the access onto a busy (trunk) road?

        • Andy Wainwright

          There is so much law concerning what constitutes ancillary buildings but to sum it up; ancillary accommodation generally needs planning permission and is a dwelling where you would be able to do anything you would in a normal home; eat, sleep, wash etc.

        • You’re not right about ancillary use. A ‘spare’ cottage for guest use is ancillary use. And your contributor below is wrong about enforcement time limits. Operational development is immune from enforcement after 4 years (so any physical work to the building would be immune after that date). Uses are immune after 10 years, except for residential use which is immune after 4.

          I can’t see that any restrictive covenant between the owners and the NCB, or a separate electricity meter, has any relevance in planning law.

        • Henrietta Hastings

          I own an annexe, adjoined to our main house. We are also in a conservation area, and I have to get planning permission to change a window frame, let alone install a new property. I also pay 50% council tax, after a review in 2014. I also have to pay separate water rates, electricity supply and fuel costs. These guys are having a laugh!

        • If it is, as he says, a ‘spare cottage’ he may well fall foul of the continuous use requirement. Either way it’s a clear attempt to avoid having planning permission denied.

        • The requirement being “use” as a separate dwelling for four years continuous, The or a similar building exists according to GE more than ten years previous so whatever operational development has existed that long is thus immune from enforcement and is Lawful. it still though requires to be demonstrated that Beyond a Reasonable Doubt it has for four years continuous been occupied as a dwelling. That may prove a tad difficult given it is described as a “spare” cottage. There may of course already be Enforcement Notice Extant or pertaining. And of course Council Tax or NDR have been, it appears, dodged..

        • willtsanlivecouk

          As you’ve noted further below that it’s a “spare” cottage for guest use, than this would suggest that the cottage is only occasionally used. In this case it wouldn’t meet the requirements of being in continuous residential use for more than 4 years and hence wouldn’t qualify for a Certificate of Lawfulness if they retrospectively applied for one.

      • Mr Peter J Napier

        Alex, well researched Also stair Campbell wants to know if is true? Could the separate cottage be a change of use from swimming pool to cottage. The walls are concrete blockwork which is cheap and cheerful appropriate for a swimming pool enclosure. Building this without PP would raise suspicions. Converting to a cottage would not as it is all internal work. Also probably no building regulations approval? If it is still a swimming pool where did the Cummings stay?

        • A glance at historic images on Goole Earth might shed some light.

        • This was my thought as well. It appears to be the only separate building. I would think that using this building would at least be a breach of Building Regulations as to use it as sleeping accommodation would be a change of use.

        • In the changing room?

      • It is apparent from the application history and lack of CT registration that this ‘spare cottage’ is in fact just a covered swimming pool. He lied again and they presumably stayed in the main (only) house with his folks.

    • Leave the man alone, yeah he made a bad decision, we all understand that.. We get it! But this is a witch hunt! It’s ludicrous and quite frankly disgusting that you’re going after him like this. As a country there’s more important things happening right now that you should be putting your efforts in to reporting.

      • No….the entire point is not where he’s been or what he’s done….fair enough to make “a bad decision”……it’s the fact he’s not faced up and apologised……had he done that and admitted he was in the wrong there wouldn’t be this witch-hunt.

      • A witch hunt? Hardly. Actions have consequences and it’s high time Dominic Cummings was held to account for his and I don’t just mean the *lockdown* breach.

      • he didn’t make a bad decision he deliberately chose to flout the laws to take his family out of London away from the virus….if millions more had done this or had the means to the virus would have become uncontrollable and killed hundreds of thousands. `his disregard and arrogance has now spawned a f**k-it attitude from halfwits and idiots across the country who are now spreading and catching the virus – look at reporting of the South West – we were pretty much unscathed and controlled the spread but now have the highest R number with hordes of people descending to enjoy beaches because this man and his lack Johnson have been ambiguous and cavalier with easing of lockdown…..we are nowhere need ready to do half of the things they propose…This is not a witch hunt it is about morals and integrity and putting country above self….it is not one rule for them and another for us….

      • Aimee, this is not a witch hunt. When the architect of the lockdown rules breaks them himself, it is news. When other prominent characters resign for breaking lockdown and he doesn’t, that keeps it newsworthy. Addionally, it would have been less of a distraction if he had admitted his ‘bad decision’ instead of lying to the nation from the rose garden of No 10. It seems you are comfortable with senior government officials breaking the rules without consequence. This story also shows the he doesn’t believe laws and rules apply to him. This should be pursued and well done to the author. Good work.

        • Agee with BILL , Alexs post was factual and not scandal making he told the facts and hey if he can get away with no council tax and breaking the rules that he proposed and Boris sanctioned then I’m not going to Pay my council tax either as he’s got away with it !
          Let’s see how that goes down when all of us obedient council tax payers revolt like in the 70’s when the poll tax was created, enough is enough !

      • If you think holding the government and their unelected advisors to account during a time of crisis is wrong, then you’re thinking like Kim Jong-Un, Bashar al-Assad, and Saddam Hussein.

      • Harriet Fitzsimmons

        he is on a JOB with great influence, he has to abide by the rules,
        same as everyone else.
        TOUGH TITTY if he gets caught.
        we are in a blame blame society.

      • Aimee do you pay your council tax ? if so why shouldn’t Cumming also ?

      • Anne-Marie Togher

        “Leave him alone”. He didn’t make a mistake, he made the rules and travelled to a second home that would have been a 7hr journey whilst carrying the virus while people were being fined for doing the same thing, without being infected.
        You sound like a older sibling crying to people whose job it is to hold government to account to stop picking on the poor man.
        Dominic Cummings relys on people like you but he definitely doesn’t respect you.

        • Peter Thorogood

          I have EVERY RIGHT for this to fully investigated.
          If any of this has been done, without the becessary permissions / payments to the Local Authority, the Cummings’s must be made to reinstate what WAS there, and PAY UP.

      • Its about people in a position of power demonstrating responsibility and not lying to the rest of us.

      • If Dominic Cummings doesn’t like what the newspapers are saying about him, if he believes that there’s fake news out there about him, that there’s a witch hunt and the media are out to get him, and he’s tired of being door-stepped and harassed every day by the press, he should complain to his MP. Who happens to be Jeremy Corbyn… did somebody say ‘karma’?

      • We shall all leave him alone when he does the honourable thing and resigns…..unles other items of gross misconduct are revealed….

      • Yes leave the man alone, like they did Jeremy Corbyn and Ed Milliband before him. The Daily Mail (aka The Forgers Gazette) and the other right wing media all dig into the lives of prominent Labour politicians and party members to try and find any dirt or anything that can be misconstrued as dirt which they then keep on file ready for an opportune moment to release it. As we speak an army of right wing “journalists” are digging around in Keir Starmer’s life, his associates and anything else they can find, looking for something to discredit him in the eyes of the electorate. They are terrified because the contrast between him and the pompous, lying, useless buffoon we currently have as Prime Minister make chalk and cheese look like identical twins.

        • Glenys Goodwill

          And there’s so much dirt surrounding DC. Let’s start with his professed need to come to Durham. Surely his brother-in-law, Jack Humphry Baring Wakefield + family, who live in London, could have looked after the brat. And once you start investigating that line, you find yourself in donations to the Tory party from Ukraine, and links to Putin. Why, oh why, is there no mention of that by the media?

      • Aimee, he not worthy of sympathy. People have been unable to be with their loved ones as they dies but HE thinks he can do what he likes. It’s NOT fair.

      • Aimee, you’re right but only to a limited extent. The behaviour of Dominic’s Cummings and Goings was in direct conflict with families who did things properly. He’s also responsible for the lockdown now being ignored by numerous people – he is therefore responsible for even more unnecessary deaths and, as such, deserves all of the criticism thrown at him.

      • He is Breaking Law after Law.. Disgraceful Contempt

      • christina strong

        If it’s TRUE he dosent have planning permission then he should have it removed I own land in wiltshire and council made my land local green space with out us knowing we found out three years later when we wanted to build bungalow for our retirement and run small farm the Tories council said even though private land they did not need to tell us anything they do with our land ?????

        • Sorry if it has already been mentioned but the local water authority HAS to be consulted and building regulations HAVE to be followed. All works to be inspected and passed off. If it is used for letting, the fire service would also be consulted

      • Is Dom above the rules then that apply to us all ?
        During his ‘statement’ he explained his rule breaking behaviour , why he did it , what he did , and why he didn’t comply , what we don’t have is a prime minister and associated mp’s with a working moral compass . They seem incapable of grasping the fine detail and the bigger picture together .
        Meanwhile thousands have died due to reckless decisions , what price justice ?

      • Donald McLellan

        The ” more important” things happening at present are in no small way a result of this odious pupetmaster and his influence on the government’s response to the current crisis, which has cost, a conservative estimate, of 30,000 extra deaths and god only knows how much damage to those who have survived this virus, the after affects, of which, can last for months.This gollum lookalike needs to be stopped before he can implement any of the eugenic measures of which he is supportive.

    • Donated. Keep up the good work.

      • Alex Tiffin - @RespectIsVital

        Thank you Dan, I’m humbled.

        • Hi alex, can ask you what the first 2 digits of the MPAN are. There are codes for residential and non-residential MPAN.

    • I thought this was an excellent article and so well researched, that I have now shared it with a number of other media comments pages, in an attempt to gain more traction for this story.

  • Thanks for doing the research into that. Where is the third dwelling that his sister and nieces live in? Cummings described in quite some detail about the fact that his parents lived in the main house and his sister lived in a desperate cottage and he stayed in a third one…?!

    • The buildings in a L shape clearly consist of two houses. The upright of the L is the smaller building. The Land Registry plans based on Ordance Survey indicate this was the only building at least in 1975 when property was first registered, maybe much later when the family bought the land. The horizontal and larger part of building appears much more recent. Probably parents live in the large building, nieces in smaller. The separate green roofed building wasn’t on OS map either and pics confirm it appears to be much more recent construction. Pics of the main building(s) would be great.

      • As much as I agree that Dominic Cummings should be brought to account over this and every other matter pertaining to his flouting of Lockdown, surely the others listed as co property owners of the farm should also be brought to account. If the rules governing planning permission have been broken then punish them all.

  • Great journalism, well done for finding the facts

  • Nicely investigated..interesting since the Land Registry entry confirms that the property is on mining land, for Coal no less.

    I am sorry, but if I was building a property on KNOWN coal mines, I think I would want to be careful about dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s not least of all to protect my investment, cos funny you just can’t magic bricks and mortar out of thin air unless you are money laundering. The Fourth schedule specifically mentions that no building or alteration can take place without the permission of the Coal Board……so he can’t even claim permitted development rights. It would be interesting whether “the Separate Cottage” went up before the NCB transferred to the Coal Authority in 1994 or after the transfer. It would also be interesting to see if the “Separate Cottage” has its own gas and electricity meters fitted, especially if they were on pre-payment meters it would indicate that it could be used as a sub-let or holiday let with that week’s user being responsible for the energy consumption separate from the main family house in which case it MUST have it’s own council tax…..but I bet you there are 2 electric meters and 2 gas meters registered on the MPAN and MPR databases for the North Lodge address.

    So many questions….all could have been avoided if he just said, “I exercised poor judgement at a time of worldwide emergency, I will step down”.

  • Good stuff. But, surely, property held for agricultural purposes such as a farm house is exempt from council tax ? That will include the main home. It may include the cottage if it were habitually used for fam workers.

    • Alex Tiffin - @RespectIsVital

      There’s a schedule on the title deed that stipulates written permission is required before any building agricultural or not is constructed. Also, it’s in a Conservation Zone, so any building needs to be checked. Plus it’s a separate habitable building for a non resident.

      • There is a green roofed building shown on the 2001 Google earth image, as the image is not particularly clear, it’s not easy to see if it has the same footprint as the current one.

    • no farmhouse is exempt from council tax as far as I am aware .

      • Farms and related industrial buildings are exempt from business rates (aka Non Domestic Rates or NDR) but the farmhouse/domestic dwelling is subject to Council Tax.

        Regarding the ‘cottage’ (how is that building a cottage?) – is it possible that it is considered to be an annexe? However, to be exempt from council tax it would need to be occupied by a dependent relative (which could be an elderly parent or a disabled child) of the main home owner. Should still be listed though and the then an exemption applied. It looks very much like this is a building that has been missed by the Billing Authority and not passed on to the Valuation Office Agency to add to the list.

        Of course, honest people would contact the local authority to tell them. But then again honest and law abiding citizens would apply for planning permission first also.

        • if it didnt having planning permission it would be invisible to council tax records

        • The irony of this in light of BLM protests and removal of some statues..
          “ But then again honest and law abiding citizens would apply for planning permission first also.”
          It seems that some find it easier to do what they want to do first, and deal with the consequences -if any- later..
          ..this applies equally to Cummings and family, as it does to protestors pulling down the statue of a slave trader, but will the right wing note this parallel?

          One rule for the well-connected wealthy, another for the common man.
          One level of disapproval and language for those acting with unified purpose..
          ..another, and sympathy demanded, for an odious man ignoring laws and regulations..
          Double standards much.

  • Excellent article. Typo second sentence; ‘Exlusive’

    • Alex Tiffin - @RespectIsVital

      Thanks Philip, I’ll fix it now. I type on a phone so these things happen.

      • Excellent article. I noticed several typos and missing punctuation. Do you want me to proofread it for you?

        • Alex Tiffin - @RespectIsVital

          Use the contact form to get in touch to talk about this. I’m dyslexic so it would be helpful. I try really hard, but sadly not hard enough

  • Caroline Teunissen

    Well done you on researching this. Have you shared with the wider media because this story should get known?

  • Brilliant: FYI – The ‘outbuilding’ appears to have been on the site in 2001, although without a ‘driveway’ to it, and isn’t in a great state of repair judging by aerial photographs on Durham County Council’s mapping facility: https://maps.durham.gov.uk/OLBasic2/Index.aspx?appid=72

    So, any works to the property were done after that date.

  • lawrence Hallett

    Does anyone know why Morag Cummings ( mummy) resigned as governor of Durham girls school on 14 April 2020? Seems strange to leave the school in the middle of a global crisis?

    • That’d be around the start of the summer term, so (I guess) giving one term notice of leaving the board of governors, which would be reasonable.

  • Fantastic piece of research and writing Alex. In an honest land this information should be acted up. Thank you for all your hard work and investigations.

  • The “isolated cottage”, i.e. the one with the green roof, could be the building referred to in the planning permission as “erection of pitched roof structure over existing swimming pool”. It looks about the right size. If it were subsequently converted (under the roof) to a dwelling, that would have needed further consent, but would not be visible, of course.

    • If so, this is disingenuous in itself – the outbuilding with the green roof was clearly already in place in 2001 (Durham County Council have aerial mapping from that year).

      There was, on the aerial mapping, no driveway to the property and so those works took place later.

      • If evidence can be provided that unequivocally prove, to the satisfaction of the Local Authority, that the property has been constantly in the same use for the previous four years, then a Certificate of Lawfulness can be obtained from them, exempting the owners from any prosecution or enforcement.

        However, if there is evidence of deliberate concealment of a breach of planning control, or change of use, then the 4yr time limit does not apply, and the Local Authority can still serve an enforcement notice upon discovery. Concealment could include choice of the building’s appearance, e.g. a dwelling that does not appear as such.

        • Sort of. If the building has been in continuous residential use for 4 years it is immune from enforcement as a matter of law. The landowner would be entitled to apply for a CLEUD, but is not obliged to. The standard of proof for issue of a certificate is the balance of probabilities, not ‘unequivocal’ proof.

          What you say about concealment is correct now. However, if the development took place and immunity was acquired before the Localism Act 2011 came into force, concealment (assuming the LPA could prove anything of the kind) probably wouldn’t be a material consideration.

        • If it was in residential use then it would have to pay council tax.

    • On further investigation on the planning portal, the “roof structure over swimming pool” doesn’t appear to be that green-roofed building. There are no detailed plans on the portal (too early), but the description of the building has e.g. no windows.

      • Interesting article and well worth further investigation, if only to ensure Mr Cummings remains a news item! I’d agree that the green-roofed building would enclose an unusually long thin swimming pool.

  • A valuable piece of journalism. Worth reading.

  • If the separate building is used as a holiday let them it may be registered for business rates rather than council tax. Worth checking.

  • FYI: On the Durham County Council website there are historic aerial photos. The outbuilding was on the property in 2001, but clearly without a ‘driveway’ and the surrounds are overgrown.

    So, the renovation works and addition of the driveway must have taken place after that.

    Top work

  • You don’t need PP to build on agricultural land. http://www.2020architects.co.uk/agricultural-development-without-planning-and-enforcement/

    • Alex Tiffin - @RespectIsVital

      You do when the title deed has a schedule stating you need written permission prior to the erection of any structure. Also, as it’s in a Conservation Zone, it requires permission from County Council

      • The “written permission” in the title deed does not necessarily mean planning permission. I don’t see why the green roofed building could not have been built under permitted development (Class E of the General Permitted Development Order). But it may not be used as a separate dwelling, only for a purpose “incidental to the enjoyment of the dwelling house”, so Cummings’ description of it as a separate cottage might in those circumstances be incorrect.

        • I can’t see any tension between it being a physically ‘separate cottage’; i.e. not one unit of accommodation with the main dwelling, and still being in ancillary use. I suspect Cummings was more concerned about explaining physical separation from his parents than the niceties of planning control.

      • Alex, good work!

        “Permission” is required from The Coal Authority (CA), as successor to The National Coal Board and this is different to permission from the Local Planning Authority, as part of the Council. It is a restrictive covenant issue. This is from title number ***473.

        The connection to CA is that the restrictive covenant requires permission, for building, from them. This may be to protect the right of way of, and access to, their pipeline.

        It would have been useful for you to have obtain the filed plans, as there are two title numbers, and attached them to your article. They will show the plotting, by the Land Registry, of the building(s) on the land within the specific title number, at the time the register was last updated. If I recall correctly, the Title Information Document (what you refer to as the title deeds) from the Land Registry, will show the date of the last update to the title. This may assist in dating what was on the land and when.

        Someone mentioned permitted development. This has nothing to do with CA and the building work would appear to be outside of the scope of permitted development. In any event, that is a matter for the LPA

        Do you have a document confirming conservation status and what or where it relates to?

        Jonathan

        • Alex Tiffin - @RespectIsVital

          The title plans are in the article too showing the highlighted red boundaries, and the blue pipeline.

        • I think you should amend the phrase “conservation zone” to “conservation area” as the former is jargon and weakens your argument. If the property IS in a conservation area (you can easily check via google) then ALL permitted development rights will usually have been rescinded ie you can’t just convert your barn into a dwelling, as Mr Cummings has done. You should now alert the local planning authority to the breach in planning law ie write a simple 1 page letter to the director of the planning department stating that you believe that there has been an illegal activity. The Cummings will then be asked to apply retrospectively for planning consent, which will entail the submission of some documentation that will become part of the public domain via their planning portal. THEN YOU WILL HAVE A SCOOP, because you will have demonstrated that the father is as cavalier with the rules (and in this case the law) as his son. I’m happy to help more if you wish. I am an industry professional with a PhD & 25 years experience in practice. Well done, well spotted; now you need to finish the job.

        • Alex Tiffin - @RespectIsVital

          Thank you. I used zone as it appears as such in the Land Registry but I will update accordingly. Cummings is a co owner si he is as liable as his son here. Thanks for the advice and I have written to Durham County Council’s planning department to report already.

  • Nice work fella – if it has been there over 4 years then he would get permitted lawful development and therefore retrospective planning I would have thought. Sadly. But maybe an uplift in the council tax.

    Posted here

    https://www.urban75.net/forums/threads/the-dominic-cummings-file.367239/page-143#post-16574135

  • It’s been well documents that from 2005 to 2007, Cummings lived in a concrete bunker that he and his father constructed at their jointly owned farm in Durham. Is this the ‘bunker’? Is the bunker another building (which also doesn’t appear to have any planning permission)?

  • What about his sister’s house, which would also presumably come under the same postcode?

    This is the direct quote from Dominic Cumming’s statement:

    “At this farm, my parents live in one house. My sister and her two children live in another house, and there was a separate cottage roughly 50 metres away from either of them.”

  • Excellent work! I, for one, think the cottage should be bulldozed, just like Dominic Cummings bulldozed through the COVID-19 guidelines we were all meant to be following at the time.

  • Out of interest have you investigated whether Dominic Cumming’s father owns any woodland which is adjacent to the property?

  • “This would therefore make Mr Cummings trip less of a journey for childcare, and more one to a second home, something was strictly prohibited at the time he travelled 260 miles north from London.”

    The explicit prohibition for second homes was to close the loophole that people would otherwise be able to claim that they are only travelling to their home / resident in their home.

    The exception for childcare is an exception to all prohibitions in the rules, as is necessary to provide childcare.

    Either Cummings made a reasonable trip for an imminent childcare emergency, or he didn’t. Whether he had any ownership interest in the house he stayed in is ancillary to the issue.

  • Pingback: Dominic Cummings actually stayed in a second home that had no planning permission and does not pay council tax. - OPERNAL

  • Pingback: Dominic Cummings actually stayed in a second home that had no planning permission and does not pay council tax. : worldnews | News Web

  • Pingback: Dominic Cummings actually stayed in a second home that had no planning permission and does not pay council tax. – Info News

  • Also take a look at companies registered at The White House just down the road. He is named as a director of one with a false DOB. That is a breach of the Companies Act.

  • Farm buildings are not exempt from council tax. We have a farm and have to pay.
    This raises so many more questions and illuminates brightly the ‘one law for us and one for the plebs’ attitude of Cummings and Johnson. They hold us in contempt.

  • Ive just checked the Bing aerial imagery, and the building in question is not yet on their aerial photos which means that it was built between the bing and google fly overs. that should help the council narrow down the building of the property nicely to with Mr Cummings ownership period!

    • sorry my bad, its just well disguised with the green roof. odd choice not fitting in with the conservation area of course, only useful to hide it from aerial view

  • If you look at getmapping.com you’ll see it was either built, or significantly modified between 1999 and 2008.

  • Donated. Many thanks.

    • Alex Tiffin - @RespectIsVital

      Thank you. That’s incredibly kind of you to do so.

      • I worked in the farm house about 5 or 6 years ago, repairing a ceiling. I got the impression it was just one dwelling and one outbuilding. The house consists of a large kitchen/dining/living room,large sitting room, bathroom and the other rooms are bedrooms and study’s. Plenty room for the three families, parents, sister and DC. They also own student accommodation in the city centre, if that helps.

  • Have you looked at those two planning applications for the installation of 2 x heating systems? They were submitted 3 May 2020 and also include tanks to store heating oil but there was an oil storage tank installed in 2018 – why would they need two more? Also, where do you think those 4 windows and no door were installed in 2016. A recently converted out building possibly?

  • Made a small donation – keep up the great work – will subscribe to your blog to keep up with your work. No rest for the wicked.

  • Spare cottage? Rather large, and purpose built and cared for to meet this description? Very interesting, thank you.

  • Mr Cummings said in his “explanation” that “At this farm, my parents live in one house, my sister and her two children live in another house, and there is a separate cottage roughly 50m away from either of them.”.

    This adds up to three dwellings but the aerial photograph only shows two dwellings. Isn’t this curious?

    • there’s also the ‘concrete bunker’ that DC and his father built on the farm, which DC claimed to have lived in between 2005 and 2007, spending his time reading and studying. Where is that? Or is that the green roofed building that has morphed from a concrete bunker into a cottage?

  • Hi Alex

    This is not a ‘witch hunt’, this individuals attitude and behavior suggests that he believes that he is above the law of the land? Both Civil and Criminal?

    Please read below the email of complaint I’ve submitted to Durham Police last week.
    I have alleged/reported that on his own admission on International television, that he committed an offence of Careless Driving (without due CARE & Attention), making a non-essential journey and endangering a child under the Children & Young Persons Act 1933. Despite my request, Durham Police have not responded to my allegation?

    In 1829, Sir Robert Peel stated, ‘the Police are the public, and the public are the Police’. He did not say ‘the Police are the Government, and the Government are the Police’, hence we have been able to Police by CONSENT for almost 200 years. Through two World wars and latterly & domestically the ‘Miners’ dispute.
    By adherence to the ethos of 1829, the Police have performed their duty impartially, fairly and independent of Political views?

    My concern is that not one of us is above the law, yet it would appear that these days, that may no longer be the case?

    Dear Sir/Madam

    I fully appreciate that you may well have received several similar complaints and/or are already investigating allegations of offences committed by Mr Dominic Cummings, but I would like to lodge this formal complaint. I would also like a Police Reference number for my records please?

    Irrespective of the journey from London to Durham(obviously to most, was not reasonable and/or essential), I will focus on the journey to Barnard Castle on 12th April 2020.
    On National and International television, Mr Cummings stated that he made a journey by car, with his Wife and four year old son in order to check that his ‘eyesight’ was good enough to travel over 250 miles to return HOME in London?

    I need not point out that Section 3 Road Traffic Act 1988, Careless Driving states “If a person drives a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or other public place without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road or place, he is guilty of an offence.”

    My complaint in essence is the self confessed fact that Mr Cummings’ eyesight had become adversely effected due to contracting covid 19.
    He was so concerned about the condition that he decided to undergo a test drive to ensure that the issues with his sight would not adversely effect his ability to drive to London?
    I would suggest that if a driver consciously is aware that a physical condition to his/her body endangers/impinges on their ability to drive a motor vehicle safely on a road, then they should NOT drive until fit to do so?
    Should a driver risk such a ‘test drive’, then clearly they commit an offence under S3 RTA 1988 and should an incident occur e.g. an RTC, then the defence or mitigating circumstance of ‘automatism’ would not apply as they had full knowledge of the relevant condition beforehand?
    With this in mind, I would suggest that the offence is committed immediately that the vehicle is driven on the road?

    Mr Cummings stated that he drove for half an hour before satisfied that his eyesight was ‘good enough’ to undertake the journey back home to London. On this admission, he drove a vehicle on a road for 30 miles with the danger that his sight might interfere with his decision making and judgement, resulting in a possible serious road traffic collision?

    On the other hand, if we accept that the journey was necessary to check his ‘sight’, then surely that would not have taken 30 miles? That is totally unacceptable, and dangerous?
    We must accept that the above offence is committed immediately that the vehicle is driven on a road, however, if Mr Cummings stated that it took a few miles, for example, before he believed his eyesight was good enough to complete a longer journey, then at that point, he should have turned his vehicle around and returned to his parents cottage?
    Failing this, the remainder of the journey is not essential, and he commits a further offence under the Regulations?

    In addition to the offences outlined above, Mr Cummings made a great deal about ‘safeguarding’ his four year old Son?
    If this is the case, is it responsible or reasonable to go on a test drive with the young child in the car, on a 60 mile ’round trip, knowing that your eyesight is questionable at best, thereby endangering that child? (Children & Young Persons Act 1933 refers).

    I am not politically or personally driven in making this complaint, but please receive it as a genuine complaint of offences committed by an individual who has shown total arrogance and disregard to British law? (As stated I would appreciate a Police Ref. number for my records)

    Thank you
    Marc Griffiths

  • Under Class Q you can convert an agricultural building to a dwelling under permitted development not requiring planning permission….. not sure why council tax is not payable though.

    L Oram RIBA

    • ..Farms are covered by the same planning regulations as other types of property. Some planning rules include special conditions for agricultural buildings and land.
      You need planning permission if:
      you want to change how you use your land or buildings from farming to something else
      you want to build a house on the land
      You will also usually need planning permission if you are applying for a grant to fund a project that needs a building or other development.When you don’t need it

      You don’t need planning permission:
      for farming operations
      to use buildings already on your land for farming purposes
      to change the inside of a building, or make small alterations to the outside – eg installing an alarm box
      if there are permitted development rights
      Before starting work on the project, always check with:
      your local planning authority in England and Wales
      your local planning authority in Scotland
      you local area planning office in Northern Ireland
      If you don’t get planning permission when you need it you may have to stop work on the development or demolish it.

      SO if it was going to be a BARN then I think they did not need PM …But if they changed it from being a barn to living space at a later date ? ….I wonder how Travellers get around planning permission when they buy a field in the county and end up building lots of single story homes on it for all their traveller friends.

    • https://www.planninggeek.co.uk/gpdo/changes-of-use/class-q/ says you can’t enjoy Class Q in a Conservation area

    • It hardly matters if it’s too late for Durham CC to enforce (e.g. make them demolish the “cottage”). That would just mean they’ve got away (again) with breaking the rules.

      Oh, and they’ve had over €200,000 in CAP subsidies from the EU. https://farmsubsidy.org/GB/recipient/GB50472/p-c-n-m-r-a-cummings-gb-dh1-3su/

    • @ Lindsay – conversions under Class Q still requires a prior approval application to local planning authority, which would show up on the public planning records.

  • The tortoise sticks its neck further out of its shell.

  • Whilst the property is Band D, it sold in 1997 and in 1999 for £225k and £230k respectively (Zoopla). This is way in excess of what the banding suggests it should have been worth (about £90k maximum) and implies the major change in the property took place between 1991 and 1997; the 1997/9 valuations “fit” the registry details provided. Aerial imagery from 2001 (Google Earth) shows the green-roofed building much as it appears in more recent photographs. The swimming pool may actually be to the south of the property (the roof work appears to have taken place in 2002 according to the Building Control records). Assuming that the Cummings did not own the property prior to 1997, it would appear they have, like perhaps others, neglected to bring the potential incorrect banding of their new property to the attention of the relevant authorities (not, I believe, an offence).

  • Excellent article, such professional journalism! Thank you

  • The builder’s quote doesn’t seem to fit with the green-roofed building. The length, 40 feet, is ok but the width, 20 feet, is too large. Maybe they changed the plans due to cost or some other reason.

    https://postimg.cc/LqdkQRTW

  • There was no trace of any building, agricultural or not, on the OS 1:10560 map, just a small scrub field. This map series was published 1949-1969. I wonder what a late1970s/early 1980s OS map would reveal?
    I also think that finding out when the Burn Hall Conservation Area was created may be key; CAs were created by an act of Parliament in 1967, but I don’t yet know if Durham’s CAs were created then or later. I presume the Durham Planning Dept should have records for this. If the swimming pool canopy is the green (camouflaged?) roof, and the CA was already in place when that PP was applied for, you have a smoking gun. If it is not, where is the swimming pool and its canopy? No trace on any sattelite maps that I can see.

  • Georgina Spiers

    Aimee, nearly 40k people have died, their relatives, friends, colleagues bereft from that loss. DC is our servant, we pay him handsomely to advise us of what is best and to stay safe. This article may seem nit picking, but it may be one of the reasons why BJ and DC and the rest of their gang wanted to shut the revelation down as quickly as possible. Maybe they too have something to hide it may be a can of worms that they really don’t want opened. I don’t know, they may be as honest as the driven snow but the seed of doubt is planted. Dishonesty in any form is disgraceful, but from the top is even worse because they are supposed to be respectable, reliable, honest people elected by trust of the nation. That trust has been fractured.

  • The green roofed building was built some time between 1984 and 1993 (https://www.old-maps.co.uk). Structurally and from its placement in the landscape, it looks like an agricultural building (my opinion, but my work is connected with buildings/built heritage). It looks like there was tree clearance at the south of the green roofed building between 10/7/99 (www1.getmapping.com) and 02/05/01 (blueskymapshop.com), the sort of work that might perhaps coincide with conversion of an agricultural building to a dwelling. Policy E8 in the Durham Local Plan (showing policies saved from pre 2004 plans) suggests that it would have been necessary to apply for planning permission for change of use from agricultural to residential (https://www.durham.gov.uk/media/3396/City-of-Durham-local-plan-saved-policies/pdf/CityOfDurhamLocalPlanSavedPolicies.pdf). The Conservation Area was Designated in 1981 (https://maps.durham.gov.uk/OLBasic/Index.aspx?appid=18)

  • North Lodge was extended between 1967 and 1978; the green roofed building was built some time between 1984 and 1993 (https://www.old-maps.co.uk). Structurally and from its placement in the landscape, I’d say the green roofed building looks like an agricultural building. There was tree clearance at the south of the green roofed building between 10/7/99 (www1.getmapping.com) and 02/05/01 (blueskymapshop.com), the sort of work that might perhaps coincide with conversion of an agricultural building to a dwelling. Policy E8 in the Durham Local Plan (showing policies saved from pre 2004 plans) suggests that it would have been necessary to apply for planning permission for change of use from agricultural to residential (https://www.durham.gov.uk/media/3396/City-of-Durham-local-plan-saved-policies/pdf/CityOfDurhamLocalPlanSavedPolicies.pdf). Burn Hall Conservation Area was Designated in 1981 (https://maps.durham.gov.uk/OLBasic/Index.aspx?appid=18). Apologies if I’ve now posted this several times, It hasn’t shown up in these comments when I’ve clicked Post Comment, though I wasn’t sure if comments are moderated.

    • The green roof building apparently was there in 1993 and is therefore not the covered in swimming pool where the application was made in 2001 and the wall and roofing materials were different ie timber walls and grey felt roof tiles. The Council Tax band clearly does not reflect what is on that property. It may be that this was originally an “agricultural building” but it would seem more than likely that it was converted to a dwelling without planning permission. Its exact status is obviously unclear but however you look at it , it looks like it has been achieved without the necessary permissions and definitely not registered as such

  • I just Googled How do I avoid council tax on second home…. Could this be of importance ?

    Those with an empty second home can let it out to avoid it. One can get relief on second homes in rural areas if it is registered as business eligible for rate relief. One can get small business rate relief if the home is available on rent out for 140 days in a year.8 Apr 2020

  • Fascinating stuff. The issue for me is not whether he actually broke the law … or spirit of the law even. It is that he should be held to the highest standards as others have who have been caught out,
    More worrying for me is the front bench response and further that of the Prime MINISTER>

    he should have been sacked … but to support this action is disgraceful. Even worse when a vicar asked about previous fines was for Mr Hancock to consider changing the law or fines in retrospect … just to defer MR cummings from further criticism. That action is far more seriously.

    This excellent research merely adds to the story

  • Thank you for this excellent research. In addition to the many questions raised around the development history, registered use, planning and council-tax status of the ‘spare cottage’, Cummings senior’s business registered at the North Lodge site has benefited since 2000 from more than £200,000 of EU farming subsidies. Details here, in case there’s anything relevant: https://farmsubsidy.org/search/?q=r+c+cummings

  • A good read, thanks Alex, I’ll send over a few ££s, to help in your research,

    Have you looked at DAFTT Limited.
    It seems to be the holding company for the farm, Dominic Cummings and his father were directors but no longer.

    The postcode is very similar but not identical and gives the property as The White House, Darlington Road. Maybe with a poke sbout, I only use the free version of Company Check so information is a bit limited.

  • Annie Wilkinson

    Or was he at Barnard Castle because Glaxo Smith Kline research pharmaceutical company is there. Dominic Cummimgs made a comment on working on finding a vaccine just before his mad dash North from #10. If this IS the case is there some shady underhand dealings on a vaccine for Covid. Certainly GSK has the history for such. Please investigate as no main stream media has mentioned this “coincidence “

    • I think, you are absolutely bang on with this coincidence. I suspect a greased palm was the prime reason for Cummings to visit Barnard Castle/GSK.

      Glaxo smith Kline are in the world pharmaceutical race to develop a Covid Vaccine, they have an advantage of Flu vaccines and protein knowledge. Together with hooking up with Sanofi the French drug giants. I read
      GSK /Sanofi are committed to making the vaccine affordable.

      I understand And have read since the Cummings trip to Barnard Castle that, GSK have released information to say, no profits will be earned from them producing a Covid vaccine (Strange a non profit pharmaceutical development??) I can only assume they have now said this in the hope of defusing any scandal.
      Something fishy for sure here … Who did Cummings see at Barnard Castle??

  • Fine work. One further thought (apologies if you have addressed it already) – much was made of the argument that Cummings was not going to Durham to stay with his parents but with his sister and nice who could provide childcare – but do they actually live in s separate household from his parents?

  • Good research, thanks, surely even if we put the planning permission, building control, rates and tax issues to one side, this goes to the heart of the truthfullness or otherwise of the statements DC and others have given. Claims, alibis and explanations were made on record and these are being tested. Keep digging. The truth will out, maybe?

  • Pingback: Dom’s “spare cottage” | the mirror@wordpress.com

  • Re-blogged here. Hope that’s OK. Great piece of sleuthing! Well done
    https://eurofree3.wordpress.com/2020/06/01/doms-spare-cottage/

  • Brilliant work. Hope the nationals pick it up

  • Could the “concrete bunker” that he lived in; actually be a disused and drained swimming pool ?
    Just a thought…

  • I read this yesterday – seriously compelling. Very surprised that despite multiple tweets and retweet yesterday, no coverage that I’ve seen or heard in the MSM? I expected wide coverage of this today (confirm or debunk) but… Nothing. Slightly baffled and wish Emily Maitlis could unequivocally put me straight on this too.

    I’m convinced this is fantastic journalism with actual integrity, but I don’t trust myself to tell fact from fiction anymore.

    I am, however, satisfied that the “Rose Garden” was a shameless tissue of insulting desperate lies.

    They, “Bo & Co”, have now got to go.

    Never thought I’d see the day we’d say ‘bring back Theresa May!

  • Comments about GSK “not making any profit” from any vaccine produced. The CEO of Sanofi, an ex GSK man, said that they (Sanofi) would be the manufacturing company, and that the first batch was scheduled to go to America and NOT the NHS. He was challenged over this, and backed down, and then said if a vaccine was possible it would be shared equally. But who do we trust, and GSK have betrayed their trust several times in the past! . If vaccines already promised to Trump, he would be upset to see a change of plans! So DC was driving to Barnard Castle with a purpose – to hand-deliver a secret note from the UK Govt to GSK – which would have too obvious to have driven to GSK just outside London. The plot thickens??

  • Dominic Cummings the Brains behind Brexit ….P C & N M & R A CUMMINGS has received (at least) 131,986.41 € in payments of farm subsidies from the European Union under the CAP. ….Also look at the other payments recieved …Scroll down to Similar recipients ….https://farmsubsidy.org/GB/recipient/GB50472/p-c-n-m-r-a-cummings-gb-dh1-3su/

  • I don’t think any MSM is likely to run with a story with so much doubt. I think I can clarify some bits. The planning application for the swimming pool is at https://publicaccess.durham.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=documents&keyVal=0100193FPA

    (Some browsers may not allow you to “view”.) The application is from 2001 and it looks like the green roof building was on the plans then – but it’s not the pool (a timber frame shed 12mx6m – the spec is included); there’s a small plan with the application with what looks like a small X on the main buildings – and I guess on the aerial photo it’s south of the main L-shape house, as that has what might be pipes outside.

    So the concrete “cottage” might be an agricultural shed converted. If that were without consent – it’s been a conservation area since 1981 – so (if that were the case) the question would be when, with all the argument about time limits for a lawful development certificate and whether there was any concealment. (The classic case of course being the bloke who hid a mock castle behind straw bales for years and only demolished it under threat of going to prison for contempt if he didn’t.)

    The tax rules on holiday lettings are another issue – I’m not sure what’s planned for “No Deal” Brexit but the current definition of “Furnished Holiday Letting” derives from an EU directive!

    • Yes, you may well be right there when you say the swimming pool is south of the main building. On Google maps, it is partially obscured by a tree and shade, which makes it difficult to see. You’d have the pool adjacent to your house, not 50 yards away, surely. Anyway, if the green-roofed building is habitable for a family, then it may need planning permission and council tax.

      Also, “Matthew Herriott, a farmer who lives close to North Lodge, said that the property includes a number of self-contained apartments attached to the main building, which are only accessible via a separate entrance.” Apartments with separate entrances would usually be required to pay council tax. Herriott is Cummings’s ex-brother-in-law.

  • My interpretation of the guidance in force at the end of March is that there were two separate issues. 1) Essential travel (with exclusions for those in a vulnerable situation ) which Dominic Cummings has exploited and 2) The requirement not to stay at a second/holiday home in any circumstances, and to remain in your primary residence. Dominic Cummings could have left his son in Durham for childcare purposes but he would then be required to return to his primary residence in London.

  • I think the counsel ther has a job to do that cotage needs to be removed if it has no planning that wat they would do if he was an ordinary cite sen

    • This building is clearly a separate dwelling (that after all is what Cummings said it is) and as such needs planning permission or permission for change of use if it had a different original purpose eg was a farm building. it is true that after 4 years have passed either from construction, if built as a residence, or after the change of use to residential the local authority is not able to take enforcement action (i.e. require it to be pulled down or reinstated for its original purpose) but it was a breach of planning control if it did not have planning permission.
      However, satisfying though it would be if this structure had to be pulled down, that is not the main point here. What matters is that just as with the round trip to Durham and the ‘eye test’ Dominic Cummings is showing his contempt for the rules that all we ‘little people’ have to abide by. Thousands of people who cared for their chidren in their own home despite being ill with Covid themselves, because it was the rule of lockdown, are justifiably furious. So will be thousands who have struggled through the process of obtaining permission to build on or change the use of a building on their own land.

      Congratulations. This is a very good piece of work – I will donate when the system lets me!

      • Alex Tiffin - @RespectIsVital

        Thank you Gillian, I try hard to push as much information and evidence in to help people make their own informed decisions.

  • Excellent research and well-written article.

    Keep up the good work; at the very least there are serious issues here that the local authority must investigate and resolve.

    But, more importantly, it reveals an attitude to the law that is unacceptable, and ought to debar anyone from public office.

    Reminds me of some of the “wild-west” activities that were uncovered when I worked in local government.

    Hope it gets more attention and widespread publicity.

    • This is very well researched and documented, Thank you. I have contributed for your work – good value.

      Prediction: There will be mo demolition of additional building. The family may have had some contempt for the law, but they will eventually wriggle out of that , by way of exceptions, retrospectives, obfuscation , obstruction etc. I may be wrong but that’s my guess.
      However, the overdue Council tax owing is another matter.
      In 2004 we converted a garage to make an Annex House (Granny Annex). The process of Planning Permission & Building Regs triggered a visit by the Local Authority to assess for Council Tax, The Annex is an independent dwelling (won front door, own kitchen & bathroom) and so Council tax was payable. It was due even if the property was empty (there is a discount if it’s empty). We have paid Council tax on it continuously for the 16 years since it was built. It’s now occupied by daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren.
      As far as I can see the Cummings family owe many years of Council Tax for this independent property, and possibly for the sister’s dwelling too, which i understand form the article is not separately registered for Council Tax. This is money denied to the Council, but the Cummings family have still driven on local roads, had their bins emptied, had the benefit of Durham street lighting, car parking , education services, etc Durham children’s services, elderly care etc has gone short because of the Cummings’ tax evasion, unless there is information not yet evident despite the research in the article.
      Unlike my prediction about the Planning Permission issue, this point is capable of remedy. The properties should be assessed for Council Tax and the amount of unpaid Council tax should be assessed, together with interest and any penalty – I don’t know what is normally charged. Or if the “spare cottage” is used for holiday lets and is registered for Business rates then evidence of the lettings and of the payment of Business rates can be provided; but presumably the sister’s dwelling is not available for holiday lets.

      Alex, have you notified Durham Council concerning the unpaid Council Tax?

  • Hey Alex, it’s been a while since I saw a piece of your work that was this in depth, and it’s so clear that your skills have come a long way. You’ve done a really great job here, your investigative journalism is on point!

    Now I wonder what the repercussions will be for Mr Cummings!

    Probably none whatsoever …

  • No TAX should mean no emergency services – that is the opinion of me who knows little about the laws applying to the matter. I only have my basic common sense to guide me and I have a habit of keeping things really SIMPLE a bit like myself really.

    Someone builds a dwelling, even adds an electricity supply coming from the grid, plus water and does not pay TAX. Then in the case of a break-in or fire they should be severely fined for using such services for events that happen to or within the building.

    It’s not a shed or an animal enclosure ffs!

  • Alex, @Bryan Pready – I think the ancient term you are looking for is “Scofflaw”.
    Most of us know someone who cocks a snoot at rules and regulations, honestly believing that they only apply to other people (mmmh, never thought I’d be using the word ‘honestly’ in a sentence about Mr Cummings).

    As I see it the other problem with Dominic Cummings is his avowed & declared intention to radically change parliament and the way we are governed, this could earn him the title of Iconoclast.

    Now there’s a term to conjure with: a Scofflaw Iconoclast… ( a shudder just ran down my spine as I typed that )

  • Well that was an interesting read

    ty all

  • I thought/had the impression that niceties like “Laws” and “Planning Permission” and “Regulations” don’t apply to the Westminster Elite. And even if they do, Mr. Blobby will quickly sign an exemption anyway.

  • Looks like a stable block converted to a cottage. I don’t know why but stables have those clocks on the roof, as seen in the North News and Pictures Northern photo. I should think there would need to be planning permission for change of use, plus building regulations approval.

  • Given that this research has identified Dominic Cummings (part) owns this property, and thus he was travelling to a 2nd home which was explicitly forbidden (as raised in this article) – has anybody requested that in the light of new evidence the Police re-open their investigation. Seems the Police investigation failed to identify crucial information that would likely change their conclusions.

  • Why have main stream media not picked up on this and the blatant lies he told about previously forecasting pandemic in his blog ( which he only did on April 14th THIS YEAR)

  • I appear to have gave the impression above on 31st May 2020 4:34 pm that Operational Dev becomes immune only after 10 years,

    Development is of generally of two types, Operational Development, building or physically altering something and Change of Use, the altering of the use to which it is put or used.

    To clarify COU other than use as a dwelling requires 10 years continuous, use as a dwelling requires only four years continuous as does operational development. The precise definitions are:-

    171BTime limits.(for enforcement)
    (1)Where there has been a breach of planning control consisting in the carrying out without planning permission of building, engineering, mining or other operations in, on, over or under land, no enforcement action may be taken after the end of the period of four years beginning with the date on which the operations were substantially completed.
    (2)Where there has been a breach of planning control consisting in the change of use of any building to use as a single dwellinghouse, no enforcement action may be taken after the end of the period of four years beginning with the date of the breach.
    (2A)There is no restriction on when enforcement action may be taken in relation to a breach of planning control in respect of relevant demolition (within the meaning of section 196D).]
    (3)In the case of any other breach of planning control, no enforcement action may be taken after the end of the period of ten years beginning with the date of the breach.

    Permitted Development, that is Statutory permission to use an outbuilding ancillary to enjoyment of a dwelling is available only where the building is within the “curtilage” of a Dwelling..

    There is no legal or planning definition of “curtilage” It has to be defined as a matter of fact and degree in each individual circumstance by application of the various Caselaw.

    So Questions still unanswered

    1. Is the outbuilding within the “curtilage of the dwelling so as to have been able to take advantage of Permitted Development rights. I think from the evidence, in particular, two separate titles and that there cannot have been a CoU to Domestic Curtilage, because domestic curtilage is not a planning use, to paraphrase, but a description of land associated with a dwelling, the answer to that question I think therefore has to be. No.

    2. Has the use as a dwelling been continuous for four years. That needs be shown to have been so for it to have become immune from enforcement. Both the date that use started and evidence of the subsequent four years continuous occupation “as a single dwellinghouse”. Difficulty being it was a spare dwelling so obviously not continually occupied currently, but if it can be shown it had been previously so used on the balance of probability for four years continuously then it may now be immune.

    3. In respect of the operational Development, what exactly was hat and when was that substantially completed. Substantial completion being the start date from which to count he four years to immunity from enforcement from. Again on the balance of probability.

    I have asked the council to explain.