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Former tip worker, 65, who lived in shipping container for 30 years has been ordered to leave in six months

A 65-year-old man who has lived in a shipping container in South Wales for 30 years has been told by local authorities to leave the country within six months.

Stephen Gibbons, a former tip worker, has lived on the site in St Brides, Newport, since 1992 – but the council claims he lived on the three acres of his farm without notifying them of a change in use.

Newport Council’s Planning Committee says Mr Gibbons never notified them or requested a change of use of the former farm buildings and yard, which has 14 sheep and a handful of horses and goats, to a mixed-use facility that includes use for vehicle repairs and a dwelling.

Mr Gibbons said he has not repaired any vehicles on the farm other than a tractor but accepts he has lived at Lighthouse Farm for decades and has never notified authorities.

The Newport City Council planning committee says Mr Gibbons never notified them or requested a change in use of the former farm buildings

The Newport City Council planning committee says Mr Gibbons never notified them or requested a change in use of the former farm buildings

Stephen Gibbons, a former tip worker, (pictured) has lived in the luxury accommodation in St Brides, Newport, South Wales since 1992

Stephen Gibbons, a former tip worker, (pictured) has lived in the luxury accommodation in St Brides, Newport, South Wales since 1992

Mr. Gibbons has spent 30 years transforming the shipping containers into a luxurious home with a beautiful fireplace, marble floors and wallpaper

Mr. Gibbons has spent 30 years transforming the shipping containers into a luxurious home with a beautiful fireplace, marble floors and wallpaper

The property comprises three living areas, one bedroom and one bathroom and is complete with stunning decor including wood paneling, area rugs and even sliding doors connecting the rooms

The property comprises three living areas, one bedroom and one bathroom and is complete with stunning decor including wood paneling, area rugs and even sliding doors connecting the rooms

The property comprises three living areas, one bedroom and one bathroom and is complete with stunning decor including its own fireplace and marble floors.

It also comes complete with the practical items needed in any home including a large dining table for entertaining and a variety of items Mr Gibbon has collected over the years.

Built in shipping containers, the property is also practical, being cool in the summer months and warm in the winter.

Mr Gibbon, who said he had “lost everything” as a result of the council’s decision, appealed the writ of enforcement last year, claiming the flat should be immune from any enforcement action given the long time it has existed.

But this week the planning inspector ruled in favor of the council, adding: “These positive acts of deception and willful concealment should deter the complainant from gaining immunity”.

Mr Gibbon said he had no initial intention of living at the property, but as his circumstances changed he was left with no choice.

“It was bought by my dad from a neighbor in 1990,” he said. “We bought the land for cattle and horses and the like with no intention of living here.

Mr Gibbon, who said he had

Mr Gibbon, who said he had “lost everything” as a result of the council’s decision, appealed the enforcement order last year but the Planning Inspectorate ruled in favor of the council

Mr Gibbon said he had no intention of living at the property when his father first bought it 30 years ago, but his divorce meant he had no choice but to live there

Mr Gibbon said he had no intention of living at the property when his father first bought it 30 years ago, but his divorce meant he had no choice but to live there

Mr Gibbon said he has only once repaired a vehicle on the property - a tractor - needed for his farm work, but the council claims he is using the property

Mr Gibbon said he has only once repaired a vehicle on the property – a tractor – needed for his farm work, but the council claims he is using the property “for other purposes”.

“Then I got divorced and had to live here. It’s no secret and never has been. It’s not like I just did this, I’ve lived here for 30 years. All the neighbors and everyone knows I’m here. It’s even on Google Earth. you can see it

“It took me a long time to get that right. It took a lot of time and work to make it better and better.

“All shipping containers. It’s cool in summer and warm in winter. People do it a lot now, I did it 30 years ago. I live here alone now, but I had the kids here with me.

“I had a great time here, I brought four of my children here. It’s the best place and everyone loves me. All the people here vouch for me.”

His neighbors have all shown their support and gratitude for the work he has been doing in the area, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic as he organized a local aid group to help vulnerable people.

“It’s so frustrating when you can get a caravan club to park five caravans up here and there’s nothing you can do when they move on,” said Stephen. “It doesn’t seem fair.”

He added that he wasn’t sure how the council found out about his way of life, but he believes it was reported by someone with whom he had fallen out.

It also comes complete with the practical items needed in any home including a large dining table for entertaining and a variety of items Mr Gibbon has collected over the years

It also comes complete with the practical items needed in any home including a large dining table for entertaining and a variety of items Mr Gibbon has collected over the years

There are three bedrooms in the property, all with one king bed, wooden floors, painted rooms and the necessities of a bedroom

There are three bedrooms in the property, all with one king bed, wooden floors, painted rooms and the necessities of a bedroom

He says he has spent a lot of time making the property his home and believed it would count in his favor if he appealed the council's decision

He says he has spent a lot of time making the property his home and believed it would count in his favor if he appealed the council’s decision

The council has ordered him to cease living at the property and restore it to its previous condition within six months and pay £8,000 in management costs

The council has ordered him to cease living at the property and restore it to its previous condition within six months and pay £8,000 in management costs

“When I first got the letter from the council I thought I was home and sober because I’ve lived here for so long,” he added. “I thought it was finished because of the timing issues. It shouldn’t have gone beyond 1996.

“When they say I use it for other purposes, what do they mean? Every tool I have is for the farm. I fixed a tractor. I don’t repair vehicles. What am I supposed to do, use a broken tractor?’

The council has ordered him to leave the house and restore it to its previous condition within six months. He also has to pay administrative costs, which he says will cost £8,000.

He said he wasn’t sure what he would do in light of the council’s decision.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” he said. “I have a house with my ex but I can’t live with her right?

“It’s disturbing, of course it is. I have pictures of my kids living here when they were so high.

Councilor James Clarke, Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning, Housing and Regulation, said: “I am delighted that Planning and Environmental Wales agreed with the Council’s assessment that this structure was constructed without a permit and was intentionally hidden to circumvent planning regulations.

“Planning regulations exist for good reasons. They want to protect us all from undesirable developments and this decision shows that intentional acts of deception and misleading are uncovered.

“The Council will take enforcement action against anyone who willfully breaks the rules in this way.”

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11163771/Former-tip-worker-65-lived-shipping-container-30-years-ordered-leave-six-months.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Former tip worker, 65, who lived in shipping container for 30 years has been ordered to leave in six months

Bradford Betz

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