Burnley Council pay landlord £65,000 after eight-year court battle

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A BURNLEY landlord is to receive around £65,000 from Burnley Council following a bitter eight-year land and property battle.

John Rowe (55), of Tennis Street, had been embroiled with the authority over properties in Cog Lane earmarked for demolition under the Elevate scheme in 2004.

Mr Rowe, a former British National Party election candidate, fought tooth and nail against the council for the right to renovate two terraced houses he owned the leasehold on, in a string of costly court proceedings.

But he says the council finally agreed to settle the matter and pay him a fee, believed to be £65,000, to buy a 5ft-wide gable wall and remaining freehold land considered the last piece in the regeneration jigsaw in Cog Lane.

Mr Rowe said: “They have done everything they possibly can to thwart me over the past eight years. The whole thing has cost them an absolute fortune. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was up to £100,000.

“They were determined they were not going to have these houses restored at any price. They only wanted new houses there.”

The wrangling started in August 2004 when parts of Cog Lane were designated a clearance area.

Mr Rowe had originally wanted to save two of the terraced houses from demolition to renovate into a home for himself but Burnley Council wanted the Cog Lane properties knocking down.

Mr Rowe repossessed properties in Cog Lane from the council for alleged non-payment of 50p annual ground rent owned by him.

But 106 and 108 Cog Lane, which Mr Rowe hoped to renovate, were bulldozed and since then it has been a protracted series of legal battles.

Mr Rowe even threatened to take up residence in a tiny 4ft 9in. wide house – part of the gable wall he built himself – exempt from a council Compulsory Purchase Order on 104 Cog Lane.

Certain quarters have slammed the court battle and the deal as a massive waste of taxpayers’ money.

Ahmed Kashaba, a property owner and former friend of Mr Rowe, accused the council of being held ransom over the situation.

He said: “It is an absolute disgrace. I have made a complaint to the Audit Commission. The site consists of two freeholds and five ground rents only, that have been left in a dangerous mess with exposed trenches and rubbish. The market value is not more than £20,000, however the council has agreed to pay the owner an astonishing £65,000.”

He claimed to have property with greater potential worth which the council offered a “derisory” £150 for.

But Mr Rowe said the figure is justifiable compensation for the upheaval, court costs and work he had done on the two properties.

“I had spent £7,000 on my former house in Cowper Street before I was moved out. I spent £22,000 on the gable wall in Cog Lane.

“I have been living a hellish life. For the past eight years everything has been up in the air. If I had lost I would have been left with absolutely nothing.

“Whatever the amount they pay me I would not go through this process again for 10 times that.”

Burnley Council would not comment on the matter at the current time.

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