COUNCILLORS have voted to take action over five unauthorised homes in Exminster, despite being warned that doing so could make people homeless.

Teignbridge’s planning committee was told that holiday accommodation at Pottles Barn had been used as permanent housing for years.

In fact, they heard, seven of the 12 units had been used permanently for more than 10 years, making them exempt from council action.

But the other five haven’t been used as long, and now the council is demanding they return to holiday use.

Planning permission for holiday occupancy was granted in 2007, when the council decided the rural location was ‘unsustainable’ for permanent homes.

In 2019 the council was alerted and the owner of the barns was contacted. An application to remove the holiday-only condition was refused in 2021.

A report said: ‘Whilst seven of the units may be immune from enforcement action, this does not mean the remaining units should also be allowed to become lawful permanent residential dwellings.’

Enforcement action would mean the occupants would have to leave and ‘this could result in a number of occupants becoming homeless’.

Instead there will be a ‘breach of condition’ notice with no right of appeal, which will still mean occupants have to find new homes within 12 months.

Agents for the owners of Pottles Barn said national planning policies had changed since 2007, and might now allow a change of use.

The owners had been approached by local people looking for small and affordable homes.

Committee chairman Colin Parker (Lib Dem, Buckland and Milber) said: 'It’s a shame that we have got to this situation.

‘All those years that people were living there, and it shouldn’t have happened.

‘It is difficult to say that some people can stay there and some can’t.’