A COUNCIL investigation has concluded there were historic breaches of planning and building control regulations at Dominic Cummings’ lockdown family farm.

Durham County Council has said no further action will be taken, but it will pass the findings on to the Valuation Office Agency to see if the family’s extra building is liable for council tax.

The Prime Minister’s special aide stayed at the property, North Lodge Farm, on the A167 Darlington Road, near Durham, after he and his wife developed coronavirus symptoms in March.

After the furore surrounding the allegations Mr Cummings had breached lockdown law, the council launched an investigation following complaints the property itself did not meet the regulations.

Stuart Timmiss, head of development and housing at Durham County Council, said: “We have now investigated the complaints regarding planning permission.

“While there have been historic breaches of planning and building control regulations, current legislation places a time limit on any enforcement measures and as a result no further action will be taken.”

During a Downing Street press conference Mr Cummings said the “cottage” he stayed in was “sort of concrete blocks”.

His father bought the farm in 1999 and two years later was granted permission for the erection of a pitched roof structure over an existing swimming pool.

Other than tree-felling, this is the only planning application related to the address on Durham County Council’s online planning portal.

Mr Timmiss said: "The investigation concluded that the main house has not been sub divided and that the residential use of an outbuilding for family accommodation does not require planning permission. However, advice has been provided in relation to building control.

“We have also looked into the complaints raised in respect of non-payment of council tax and will be passing our findings on to the Valuation Office for its consideration and review.”

The Valuation Office Agency has said it cannot comment on individual cases.

Durham City MP Mary Foy said: "Durham County Council has been back in touch with me to let me know that although it does appear that there have been planning control breaches at North Lodge Farm, it is bound by the Town and Country Planning Act in the action it can take.

"Simply put, the act sets limits on the amount of time in which enforcement action can be taken and despite some development on the site requiring planning permission, the council is now unable to take action due to the length of time since these building works were completed.

"While I understand that the council is bound by legislation in what action it can take, and planning regulations can be complex to navigate, I don't think that this situation does anything to dispel the idea that it is only us that are expected to play by the rules.

"Given the rural location, and the fact that North Lodge is in both a Conservation Area and the Green Belt, checking whether any development needs planning permission is vital, regardless of whether it is visible or not.

"I understand that a decision relating to the council tax issue is still being determined and has been forwarded to the Valuation Office for consideration. I will no doubt be updated as to the outcome in due course.

"I'd encourage any of my constituents who are planning to make adaptations to their properties to contact the council prior to any works taking place for advice.

"I would not want them to be subject to similar investigations as the outcome could be very different."