Beds, Herts & Bucks

Stevenage man in 'harmful' home row

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Media captionStevenage residents complain about derelict house that has led to vermin infestation

A disabled man could be forced to sell his home against his will after the local council deemed it an eyesore.

Stevenage Borough Council took action against William Dennehy, 63, after he failed to clean up his house.

But the High Court found an "error in law" in the council's bid to force Mr Dennehy to sell his home.

The court said the council could restart the process of forcing Mr Dennehy to sell his home, but must give due consideration to his disability.

Mr Dennehy, who receives disability benefits due to severe depression, told the High Court he would struggle to improve his property - deemed in a "poor state of repair" and "far from functionally habitable" by a planning inspector - quickly.

The council claimed the property was in such a state it was "harmful" to local area's appearance.

Image caption The High Court heard 'something had to be done' about the house in Stevenage

In 2014, the council obtained a compulsory purchase order (CPO), which would have forced him to sell it.

But High Court judge Mr Justice Holgate has now overturned the CPO for legal reasons.

"This is a case where there was an error of law, but it is not to say when it goes back the outcome will be different," he said.

He said: "Compulsory purchase is often used in a case like this, because homes are a valuable resource in our country, with its finite land supply.

"This property cannot be allowed to carry on in this way. Something has to be done about it.

"There is now an opportunity for him to deal with it."

Image caption The court heard there was an 'error in law' within the 2014 compulsory purchase order

The court heard Mr Dennehy claimed to have repeatedly attempted to bring his house up to standard.

However, he was unable to do so due to his disability, which affects his capacity to carry out day-to-day tasks.

The council was granted permission to restart the CPO process.

After the hearing, a council spokesman said: "On behalf of local residents, we are disappointed with the decision and are seeking further legal advice to determine our next steps."

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