West Sussex carer who lives in a transformed horsebox faces eviction earlier than Christmas

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A carer living in a converted horsebox faces eviction before Christmas because council chiefs say it breaches planning policies.

Steve Tremmel, 51, has been living in the box on private land for the past five years.

He has permission to stay on the site in Coolham, West Sussex, from the land owner.

But he was served with an eviction notice by Horsham District Council in July 2016 for the ‘unauthorised stationing of a vehicle for residential purposes’.

The care and support worker for vulnerable adults said he never planned on living in the horsebox permanently but it was a ‘means to an end’ as he could not afford to buy a home in the area.

He previously lived in Chichester and abroad with his wife, but moved into the horsebox when the pair divorced.

He said: ‘I live affordably, but I feel if I am forced out on the streets I will have to give up my job.

‘It was never the long-term plan to be living in it for the rest of my life but it was a means to an end.’

After sharing his story, Mr Tremmel received support from residents, with scores of people calling on the council to ‘leave him alone’.

He hopes his story will encourage others to come forward and share their experiences to put pressure on the Government and local councils for change.

Mr Tremmel said: ‘I’ve been really humbled and overwhelmed by the response, I really didn’t expect it.

‘I have never wanted fame or to be in the limelight. I just wanted get my story across about the homelessness and the unaffordable housing. For me, that is the burning issue.

‘The council’s idea of affordable housing is not a true representation of affordable housing.

‘My story will go away in a few days or a few weeks and I will just be a statistic but the problem is it needs to be challenged constantly. I just want to see things starting to change.’

A spokesman for Horsham District Council said: ‘The Council served an enforcement notice on July 29, 2016 for the “unauthorised stationing of a vehicle for residential purposes” as a new residential use in the countryside is contrary to planning policy.

‘The owner of the land appealed the enforcement notice to the Planning Inspectorate. Their decision on August 16, 2017 was that the appeal be dismissed and the enforcement notice upheld.

‘The occupier of the horse box was required to leave the land by February 16, 2018.

‘Given the significant timescales involved, the Council is of the view that more than sufficient time has been given and the Council has been clear on its position, which has been upheld by the Planning Inspectorate.’

He added: ‘The terms of the enforcement notice have still not been met and the Council is pursuing prosecution proceedings for non-compliance with the enforcement notice.

‘During this time, the Council has been pro-active and met with the landowner to try and resolve this matter and the occupier of the horsebox has been made aware of the Council’s housing services.’

Last month, Horsham District Council won an appeal to remove Gypsies and Travellers from a site at Kingfisher Farm near Billingshurst, West Sussex.

In June and July 2018, a Public Inquiry was instigated by the Planning Inspectorate to discuss and debate the planning merits of the Council’s enforcement notices which had been issued on the site back in June 2016. 

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