A MAN who quit his Disney job of 20 years to live on an off-grid island has told how he couldn’t sleep after he was ordered to evict the property.
Saul Mahoney, 50, swapped his corporate job in London for a slower pace of life in Leicester.
Five years ago, Saul upped sticks and nabbed the island five years ago together with his two dogs Bonnie and Mika.
There, he would grow his own fresh produce and collect rainwater to wash his clothes.
However, an unwelcome eviction notice threatened to spoil Saul’s new idyllic life – and he appealed the decision immediately.
“The reality of the case is: the council have a problem with me being here, they didn’t know the place existed, and now they want to kick me off.
The council then tied a statement to the resident’s fence justifying their concern, while Saul printed his version of events for the public to make up their own minds.
The letter discusses a “breach of planning control” and the erection of the property “without planning permission”.
Strangely, the council originally welcomed Saul’s decision to move in five years ago.
“The nuts thing about this is that the council themselves asked me to reuse this empty building and they wrote to me about it.
“And that’s all I’ve done.
“And now they’ve got a problem with it.”
However, after a stressful run up to the hearing, during which time Saul “would take sleeping pills” to get a proper nights sleep, there was finally some good news.
“We won the appeal,” Saul told his daughter over a phone call.
“The inspectorate found pretty much everything in our favour.
“I couldn’t ask for more.”
It comes as one squatter living by train tracks says he defended his plot with a spade when an eviction squad tried to turf him out.
As he faces his latest fight for survival, the handyman says he is willing to get King Charles involved to defend his rights.
A Charnwood Borough Council spokesperson said: “We apologise if this case, which was resolved in 2021, caused distress to Mr Mahoney.
“Officers attended the site in April 2020 after a member of the public raised concerns about the residential occupation of the existing building and that other buildings and structures had been erected on site.
“The letter issued in relation to the empty property in 2015 was a standard letter, which is sent to property owners when Council Tax records show a property has not been in use for over six months.
“On this occasion, we accept further information could have been provided to Mr Mahoney about ensuring the use of the property accorded with the planning regulations however this particular case was unique and complex.
“Mr Mahoney was advised that if he could provide evidence that the building had been previously occupied for residential purpose then the Council would need to consider whether the use of the building was lawful.
“An enforcement notice was served in September 2020, as no evidence had been put forward. The owner appealed the notice.
“On April 23 2021, Mr Mahoney provided a statutory declaration from the previous owner of the land confirming they used to occupy the building.
“The appeal went ahead on April 27, 2021 as there was various development works that had been undertaken without the benefit of planning permission.
“Mr Mahoney won the appeal in 2021”