Artist labelled as a squatter loses bid to continue late classes

Anna Davies was accused of being a squatter
Anna Davies was accused of being a squatter

An artist accused of squatting in a building she uses as her studio was refused permission to continue running evening classes over fears of disturbance to neighbouring residents.

Anna Davies claimed she found the hut, in Kings Walk, Shoreham Beach, in a derelict state in 2005 and later converted the property into a studio after extensive attempts to trace its owners failed.

The hut, in Kings Walk, Shoreham Beach, has been at the centre of questions over ownership

The hut, in Kings Walk, Shoreham Beach, has been at the centre of questions over ownership

Planning permission for use as an artist’s studio was granted in 2012 but complaints over smoke from a wood-burning stove highlighted the agreed operating hours were being breached.

Ms Davies’ retrospective bid to open until 9pm two days a week was instead limited to 6pm by Adur District Council’s planning committee on Monday.

“Residents did not expect a business to appear in a tranquil residential area until 9pm two days a week,” said Marine councillor and Shoreham Beach Residents’ Association chairman Joss Loader.

While not an issue the committee could consider, Mrs Loader highlighted residents’ concerns over the hut’s ownership.

She noted a letter of objection from former Shoreham Angling Club member, Trevor Passmore, penned shortly before he died in January.

Title deeds register the proprietors as three members of the now disbanded club – but efforts to trace them have been unsuccessful. Mrs Loader said Mr Passmore viewed Ms Davies as a ‘squatter’. His objection letter registered intent to evict her but funds were limited.

Ms Davies said had paid business rates on the property and had spent hundreds of pounds trying to trace the owners.

“I’ve spent hundreds of pounds on public notices and spent much time trying to trace the owners,” she said.

“I am more than happy to answer any questions at the appropriate meeting with the appropriate people.”

Speaking after the meeting, she said that while she would not be able to hold evening classes, the new conditions would allow daytime teaching by appointment.

She welcomed a condition requiring her to install a more eco-friendly heating solution to minimise emissions.