Captain Tom Moore could be described as the totemic figure of the Covid lockdown period in the UK. Raising millions of pounds for NHS charities by walking laps of his garden, one of the defining images of the first lockdown was the uniform-adorned 99-year-old and his walking frame. Captain Tom became a global news story overnight, and his efforts were celebrated as the embodiment of the spirit and determination of the British public during the pandemic. He would go on to be knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, before passing away in February 2021 aged 100.

 

Before he died, the Captain Tom Foundation would be launched in his name. His daughter, Hannah Ingram-Moore, and her husband would become trustees of the charity in February 2021. The charity made Hannah Ingram-Moore an interim CEO, where she earned £85,000. It has come under intense scrutiny for its high costs relative to its charitable grants, leading to a statutory inquiry by the Charity Commission which began in June 2022.

 

This takes us up to the present day, where Ingram-Moore and her husband have lost a planning application appeal for a spa complex in their garden which was built using the charity’s name. They have also been given three months to demolish the structure by Central Bedfordshire Council.

 

Keep reading to learn more about the case and the lessons that can be learned for charities like the Captain Tom Foundation.

 

Background

 

Architecture plans of a building with Small model house on top o

 

The building on the grounds of the family home originally gained planning permission in August 2021 for an L-shaped building to be used for foundation activities and housing memorabilia.

 

However, a revised planning application was made in February 2022 for a C-shaped building. This included a spa pool, toilets, as well as a kitchen for private use. The justification for the building by Ingram-Moore and her family was that the new building would allow “Captain Tom’s story to be enjoyed by the public”. They also suggested that the spa pool would be opened up for rehabilitation sessions to be enjoyed by elderly people once or twice a week. However, there were no clear details regarding how the plans would work in practise.

 

This version of the building was refused planning permission by the Council, leading to the planning authority issuing an enforcement notice on 16th March 2023 requiring the unauthorised building to be demolished. This enforcement notice required the demolition of the detached single storey building, the removal of the building materials from the land, as well as the restoration of the land to its former condition prior to the building being constructed.

 

An appeal was subsequently filed under section 174(2) (a),(e),(f),(g) of the Town and Country Planning Act, however ground (e) was subsequently withdrawn. The remaining grounds relate to:

 

1. (a) The effect of the ground on the Old Rectory (a Grade II listed building), the character and appearance of the area, and the living conditions of neighbouring occupiers, having regard to outlook

2. f) That the requirements of the notice exceed what is necessary to achieve its purpose

3. g) That the time given to comply with the requirements of the notice is too short

 

Why were these grounds of appeal unsuccessful? Let’s find out.

 

Why did the appeal against the planning decision fail?

 

There was one key reason why the ground (a) appeal for the unauthorised building failed. The scale and massing of the building caused harm to the Old Rectory; the Grade II listed building the family lived in. The inspector argued that conditions would not be able to overcome the harm to the building. Despite this, the planning inspector determined that it was not demonstrated that there was unacceptable harm to “either the character and appearance of the area or local residents”. This was in relation to the living conditions of the local residents in terms of outlook.

 

Both grounds (f) and (g) also failed. In the case of ground (f) the appellants failed to specify lesser steps which would overcome the objections to the development. However, the requirement to restore the land to its former condition before the building was constructed was removed from the enforcement notice. The reason for this is that the appellants interpreted the notice to mean that they would be required to re-instate the tennis court which preceded the L-shaped building.

 

For the ground (g) appeal, it was determined that the actual removal of the building (rather than what happens before and after this) should take no more than three months. This was despite the appellants originally arguing that they believed it would take a year to demolish the building, source the appropriate contractors and to leave the site in a fit condition.

 

yellow bulldozer

 

The Executive Member for Planning and Development, Councillor Mary Walsh, said:

 

“Naturally, we are pleased that the Planning Inspector has dismissed this appeal and upheld the council’s requirement that the building is demolished. We have a duty to protect the appearance and setting of heritage assets such as the Old Rectory and our decision making is guided by national and local policies. In this case, the Inspector agreed with the council that the proposed use of the building was not justified and that, by virtue of its size and appearance, caused sufficient harm to warrant its removal.

 

We will always take robust enforcement action when it is appropriate to do so. Our next steps are to monitor compliance with the enforcement notice and expect the building to be demolished within three months, as set out in the Inspector’s decision.”

 

Our thoughts

 

This is a case which clearly demonstrates the importance of conforming to the original planning permission. In this instance, the family of Captain Tom decided to considerably alter what was notionally meant to be a meeting place for the Captain Tom Foundation by adding a spa and kitchen.

 

Further issues which are not covered by the planning inspector’s decision arise over the blurred lines between the family and the Captain Tom Foundation. While the Ingram-Moores applied for planning permission using their own name, they also used the charity’s name and logo, stating that the building was intended for the charity. This raises potential IP/trademark complications as the trademarks are registered under Club Nook Ltd, a private company they had set up.

 

An investigation was launched over a year ago by the Charity Commission in relation to conflicts of interest between businesses owned by the Ingram-Moores and their charity, the Captain Tom Foundation. There are also concerns over mismanagement and compliance with charity law. It now seems that the Foundation will not exist for much longer, with family lawyer Scott Stemp stating: “It’s not news to anybody that the foundation, it seems, is to be closed down following an investigation by the Charity Commission.”

 

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