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Couple’s ‘small victory’ in battle to live in home
A SOPLEY couple are anxiously waiting to see what the district council’s next move will be after winning “a small victory” in their bid to stay in their home.
A High Court judge has dismissed an injunction from New Forest District Council to evict Eric and Janette Owen from the home they bought at Merryfield Park in Sopley.
In 2010 Mr Owen, 78, and his wife, 59, were ordered to pay fines after breaching a New Forest District Council enforcement order.
In a desperate bid to stay in their refurbished former RAF hut, they submitted a planning application asking for continued use of the building as a residential unit.
NFDC rejected the application, saying there is no residential permission at the site, and took the couple to the High Court in 2012.
Mrs Owen said: “We have finally received the High Court judgement in the case NFDC against Owens whereby NFDC were seeking an injunction to remove us from our properties on Merryfield Park.
“The judge has dismissed the application against all defendants.
NFDC have three options for the future of this claim – firstly to dismiss it and pursue alternative remedies, secondly to stay the injunction or thirdly to continue to full High Court trial.
“The judge was very thorough in his investigations and has thrown doubt on much that NFDC has relied upon in the past, so it will be interesting to see what happens next.”
Mrs Owen added: “It is a small victory, but I will be happier once we hear from the district council. If they are sensible, they will open up the platform for discussion.”
The couple are due to hear from the district council on March 28 and have another date set to appear in the High Court on April 9.
If Mr and Mrs Owen are unable to stay, they say they will have lost the £62,000 life savings they spent on buying and fitting out their home.
Merryfield Park, previously called RAF Sopley, was bought by the MoD and built in the early 1950s as a domestic site for the nearby southern radar station.
Most of the 91 buildings on the site housed around 450 RAF personnel at its busiest. But in September 1974, the site was closed.
Since then it has been used by the Household Cavalry during the Queen’s Silver Jubilee and then as a resettlement centre for around 650 Vietnamese refugees.
In 1989 the developed part of Sopley Camp was bought by the present owners and in 1999 the name was changed to Merryfield Park.