A bid to untangle a long-running planning dispute that has left a house in a Herefordshire town unfinished for years has failed, after claims about its history were rejected.

Martin Rohde had applied to Herefordshire Council for confirmation that permitted work to build a house by a path known as Dukes Walk, beside the Etnam Street car park in Leominster, had begun in summer 2011 – rendering it now immune from enforcement action.

This appeared to be part of a bid to refashion the now larger building, part-built in 2018-19 but not in line with the earlier permission, in a way that would be acceptable in planning terms.


But Herefordshire Council planning officer Adam Lewis found “significant anomalies” in Mr Rohde’s account of the 2011 period, which he said was contradicted by the council’s own evidence.

This “casts doubt as to whether any material operations took place on the site within the period” – meaning Mr Rohde “has failed to discharge the onus of proof”, Mr Lewis said.

Hereford Times: A recent photo of the Dukes Walk building, still unfinishedA recent photo of the Dukes Walk building, still unfinished (Image: LDRS)

This was despite sworn statements from six others being submitted to back Mr Rohde’s bid, which nonetheless lacked documentary evidence such as photographs from the time.

A nearby resident told the council, supported by photographic evidence, that as of September 2011, no digging or levelling had taken place at the site, only some vegetation and rubbish removal as the council had required.


On the basis of this and other images, “there does not appear to be any observable sign of the material operations claimed by the applicant” at the time, Mr Lewis concluded, adding: “No direct counter evidence has been provided.”

Mr Rohde’s case was also weakened by the fact that in his later, unsuccessful bids to have the larger building approved, he had not claimed that the earlier permission had been implemented, Mr Lewis said.

The application for a certificate of lawfulness covering the earlier work was refused. Mr Rohde may appeal this, while the council has the option of enforcement action to clear the site.