Tory councillor wants to live in ‘shipping container’ when his house is demolished

Horsham district councillor John Bailey
Horsham district councillor John Bailey

A Rudgwick councillor wants to live in a shipping-like container in the countryside for three years after his house is demolished.

Berkeley Homes is currently building 55 new homes along with offices at the Windacres Farm site off Church Street.

Container proposed to be used for residential accommodation by John Bailey in Rudgwick.

Container proposed to be used for residential accommodation by John Bailey in Rudgwick.

But both Windacres Lodge, the home of Horsham district councillor John Bailey, and Windacres Barn are being demolished to make way for a new access road and footpath.

Mr Bailey has therefore submitted a retrospective application to use a ‘container home’ on the remaining part of his agricultural land for three years until he can move into one of the new houses being built by Berkeley.

It is sited next to a recently completed agricultural building, which he is also trying to gain retrospective permission for from Horsham District Council.

HDC’s Planning Committee North is due to discuss the application for the container on Tuesday (August 7).

In an objection to the council, one of Mr Bailey’s neighbours says he ‘has been living in the container since he vacated his previous abode a few weeks ago’.

The neighbour continues: “I have no objection to the applicant wishing to live in a container but this should be sited within the built-up area boundary.”

Council planning officers have recommended the application be refused as the temporary unit would be accepted in principle if it was located with the built-up-area boundary of the village and if the period of use was reduced to the absolute minimum to justify its presence.

However they conclude as presented the proposal is not considered to be reasonably required, with the applicant failing to demonstrate why suitable temporary accommodation is not available elsewhere.

The time-period has not been justified or explained, and the impact on the landscape character, while relatively small, is considered unacceptable and contrary to both council and national planning policies.

The officers’ report explains how the unit has the appearance of a shipping container and is finished with an olive green colour.

They describe how the unit is self-contained and consists of a studio-style living arrangement with a bed and kitchen/cooking facilities in the main section and a separate bathroom with shower.

It has an electricity supply and is heated by convection and fan heaters, with a storage water heater.

Officers added: “At the time of the latest site visit officers were unable to view inside the unit, but it appeared from the outside and anecdotal evidence that it was being occupied as a dwelling.”

Mr Bailey has been approached for comment.