Farmer refuses to move fire truck from his land despite court ruling

Defiant farmer refuses to remove converted fire engine from his land after letting it out for holiday breaks despite court ruling he is breaking the law

  • Farmer rents out converted fire engine getaway at rates starting at £399 a week
  • Teasdale has been fined nearly £11,000 for not moving the vehicle on his farm

A farmer who converted an old fire engine into a holiday home continues to advertise breaks in spite of a court ruling which says he is breaking the law.

Graham Harrison Teasdale, 52, has kept the ‘Red Rescue Retreat’ on his land in the Lake District for more than a year, rented out to holidaymakers.

Despite being served with an enforcement notice in 2020, he says he has told Magistrates he did not believe it needed planning permission as it is on wheels.

Representing himself in court, he stressed: ‘I built it myself, so I’m not getting rid of it. We’ve got to come to some solution, haven’t we?… It’s not harming anybody.’ 

Lake District National Park Authority officials this week moved forward with a prosecution after confirming the owner had ignored the prior enforcement notice. 

The red fire truck boasts magnificent views over the Blencathra Fells, near Keswick, Cumbria

The converted fire truck sleep four across two bedrooms and fetches up to £1,000 a week

Teasdale built the getaway, which is parked on his farm in Threlkeld, Cumbria.

It is made up of a vintage fire truck with a large barn-shaped structure in the middle.

The truck is parked next to a short patio, complete with chairs and a potted plant.

The popular retreat is reported to have bookings taken up until next March.

Weekly rates start at £399 and are advertised for £1,000 for a week in August.

Teasdale alleges that the first planning officer to see the truck had ‘approved it’.

He said he has ‘had over 16 applications in to Threlkeld Parish Council and they have never supported it once.’

The farmer was reported to have applied to the Lake District National Park Authority for retrospective permission but the plans were rejected in February 2020. 

This came despite planning officers recommending approval of the application.

An appeal was later dismissed.

A planning inspector later reported that the truck ‘significantly harms the character and appearance of the surrounding area’.

The farmer claimed it was a ‘vital source of income to the farm’.

Regardless, officials served an enforcement notice in July 2020, calling for the permanent removal of the truck.

Carlisle’s Rickergate court later heard that the truck was still placed illegally on Teasdale’s Doddick Farm between July and December 2020, despite the notice.

Magistrates ultimately imposed a fine of £8,978 along with a £2,000 victim surcharge. 

Teasdale asked if he could pay the debt off over the course of five years.

They are reported to have ruled that he must pay at a rate of £1,000 a month.

The stay near Keswick is still being advertised online.

An advert on a holiday booking site says the vehicle sleeps four, with two bedrooms.

It claims to have ‘quirky fire engine beds for the kids as well as the fireman’s pole.’

The ad says it is ‘located in a peaceful, tranquil position on a working beef and sheep farm’ and boasts routes onto the magnificent Blencathra fells.

Graham Harrison Teasdale as he left court. The farmer has been fined nearly £11,000

The fire truck still has much of the original equipment in it, attracting families on holiday

Mr Teasdale insisted: ‘It if had been someone else’s fire engine, it would have been passed.

‘I can assure you that from where I live, I can see 150 mobile homes or caravans from my farm on other farms. I can’t see why I should be punished for having one.’

He added that because the fire engine was on wheels, he believed it did not need planning permission.

The court clerk pointed out that planning rules applied to the defendant as they did to everybody else.

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