Family facing losing their year-round home

A family will today plead with councillors to let them stay in their rural dream home which could be under threat from planning small print.The Kinseys' have spent �250,000 on a stunning barn conversion which featured on a television reality show as the couple moved from Stoke on Trent to Norfolk in search of country life.

A family will today plead with councillors to let them stay in their rural dream home which could be under threat from planning small print.

The Kinseys' have spent �250,000 on a stunning barn conversion which featured on a television reality show as the couple moved from Stoke on Trent to Norfolk in search of country life.

But they could fall foul of a policy which says it can only be used for holiday accommodation and not as a main residence.

Locals at Happisburgh have rallied round the family because of their involvement in the local community - where Steve Kinsey is on the lifeboat crew, the couple are supporting elderly parents and children attending local schools.


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The district councillor for the area, Lee Walker, said she hoped the council would see common sense and allow the Kinseys to stay in their home because of the very particular circumstances of the case.

'They are at the mercy of the committee. I just hope the common sense view is taken, otherwise they will be homeless,' she said ahead of today's crunch meeting at the district's east area development control committee, where officers are recommending refusal of bid to remove the 'holiday only' condition.

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A report to the committee says agreeing to the change could set a precedent as there were 15 other barns with holiday occupancy restrictions within an 800m radius.

The Kinseys said they had put their 'heart and soul' into the home they share with two young children Kurt, 10, and Jack, 13, and where two grown up children Danielle and Dale also make regular visits.

They admitted they had been 'na�ve' in their view of planning law. They bought the property in 2004 when it had planning permission to be used as a home, but 'for holiday accommodation only' and not as 'the sole or main residence.'

The mistake they made was to take verbal advice from an estate agent who told them it would be straightforward to change the permission on White's Farm Barn from holiday let to permanent residence.

They have now found out the process is not at all clear cut and could lead to them being forced out of the home they have lived in for a year and a half.

The conversion of the listed 18th century former potato store was featured on a Channel 5 television documentary called Build a New Life in the Country - one of several facts the Kinseys say demonstrate they are not trying to get round the system.

'We wouldn't have gone on television in front of millions of people if we weren't genuinely trying to build a family home and stay within all the rules,' said Mrs Kinsey.

'It has been devastating to find out we may not be able to keep what we have grafted so hard for, there have been tears and sleepless nights.

'We know we have been na�ve, but we were reassured again and again it would be fine.'

Mr Kinsey, who served as a Staffordshire firefighter for more than 20 years and trades as a tiler and plumber, said: 'We have put everything into this home. We did the vast majority of the work ourselves.

'We hardly saw the kids for the best part of a year because they were looked after by Lorraine's mum while we worked day and night on the house.

'It has been a bottomless pit, but totally worth it to create a family home. This feels more like home than any other house we have ever had.'

Among those supporting the Kinseys' case is Cedric Cox, lifeboat operations manager at Happisburgh lifeboat, who said Mr Kinsey was a 'keen member' of the station.

'As all stations are struggling to get keen members and hold on to them, and who live in the village, we are very keen to hold on to him.'

Ian and Sharon Chaney, at the village's Wayside stores and post office, said: 'We need families who support their village like Mr and Mrs Kinsey and so we give them our total support for their application.'

James Garrett-Pegge and Veronica Brown, who are the Kinseys' only immediate neighbours, said: 'It would be tragic if they have to give up their barn as their home.

'At a time when many residents in communities such as Happisburgh despair at the number of village houses that are used as holiday and weekend homes, here is a genuine family who are desperate to make their lives in this village.'

Council planning manager John Williams said the policy was aimed at encouraging housing in areas where there were existing services, rather than in the open countryside, and had been thoroughly debated recently when the new planning guidelines were drawn up.

If councillors went against the recommendation the final decision was likely to be made by a joint meeting of the east and west committees.

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