Couple at centre of window row sell up
A COUPLE who were embroiled in a lengthy legal battle with Mid Devon District Council over UPVC window frames have put the offending Cullompton property on the market for £35,000.
Anita North and John Crossley, who ran a funeral parlour at 50 Fore Street, say it was effectively closed down by strict planning policies relating to the conservation area in the town centre.
The UPVC windows replaced tatty aluminium frames in 2006 but enforcement officers said planning permission was needed for the change and the chosen alternatives "detracted from the character and appearance" of the street.
The couple said they could not afford to scrap the new windows and replace them with wooden versions and they closed the premises.
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The windows were removed three years ago and the property was boarded up.
Thorne and Carter, the estate agent handling the sale, have received an offer from an unknown buyer after the couple decided to sell the shop and put the bitter feud behind them.
Ms North, who explained the council wanted to see wooden frames reinstated, said: "The shop is quite cheap because obviously there is no front and whoever takes it on is going to have to fight the battle with Mid Devon District Council.
"We have had enough of it because the business was wrecked anyway and we have decided to let it go.
"Presumably, the new owner will just toe the line and do what the council wants, but with a different business the type of shopfront might not be so crucial. But for us, the wooden frames would not have worked due to the nature of the business.
"John spent a fortune on air conditioning in order to keep the temperature right because there were bodies in there.
"The conservation area has done more damage to Cullompton town centre than anything else. People need to be able to make business decisions on what they are doing – obviously they have got to be sensible – but if we did something outrageous we would have expected the full force of the council. But it looked liked timber and the only people who had a problem with it were the powers that be in their ivory towers."
Wood is the preferred material for frames in the conservation area but Mr Crossley opted against them because he felt the material would have perished over time.
He was taken to Exeter Magistrate's Court by the council in 2009 for not responding to an enforcement notice to remove the windows.
Almost 1,000 people signed a petition asking for the council to drop the issue in 2010, but the council said its hands were tied because of legislation relating to the conservation area, which is designed to protect the town's historic features.