AN ELDERLY couple who turned an old pumping station into a home have won a legal battle against the council to continue living there.

Rochford Council issued an enforcement notice on the former water pumping station situated on a small plot of green belt land just south of South Fambridge village, off Fambridge Road in February 2022.

The small building has been converted into a home by Nicholas and Lesley Diss along with the erection of a secondary building (referred to as a butler bin).

The council ordered the couple to demolish the butler bin, remove its foundations and plumbing pipework and permanently cease the use of the old pumping station building as a dwelling.

Echo: Satellite images show the pumping station and the butler binSatellite images show the pumping station and the butler bin (Image: Google Maps)

The cylindrical, metal butler bin was built in 2018, after which the couple moved into the derelict former pumping station – which was previously listed for sale on auction with a guide price of £25,000 - £30,000 in 2014.

Connections were made to allow for the provision of water and electricity services.

Due to the small building’s limited size only a very basic standard of accommodation was possible within and the butler bin, was used to accommodate the shower, toilets and storage facilities.

Ruling in favour of the couple, government planning inspector Timothy King said: “I consider that the displacement of Mr and Mrs Diss, who are of elderly age, from this modest development which is their sole residence, would result in them experiencing a significant degree of hardship.

“Given the rather low key nature of their occupation, the fact that the development partly involves the re-use of a small derelict building, and that the development can be conditioned personally, I afford the appellants personal circumstances as carrying significant weight.”

The council had argued the development represented serious harm to the greenbelt, a view the inspector did not share.

“Notwithstanding the erection of the butler bin the refurbished building has not itself been extended or altered to any material extent and, as such, I consider that, in this particular instance, returning the former pumping building to a beneficial re-use satisfies the framework’s criteria and is not inappropriate development within the green belt,” he wrote.