Action taken to remedy planning breach - 30th Aug
In direct response to calls from residents in Bilsington, Ashford Borough Council has successfully resolved a breach of planning law where a resident failed to comply with an enforcement notice.
The matter related to the installation of a portacabin on land at the junction of Newchurch Road and Wills Lane. The development was contrary to development plan policy and guidance within the National Planning Policy Framework. As there was no genuine agricultural need for the building, it resulted in a visually intrusive form of development within the rural landscape.
This was brought to the council’s attention in 2012. The council gave the contravening landowner of Frostland Villa, Newchurch, the opportunity to submit a retrospective planning application, which he did in February 2013.
Members of the planning committee, following objections from five residents and the parish council, refused this in July 2013. An enforcement notice was issued on 12th September 2013 as the structure remained in place on the land.
The notice was appealed. However, the planning inspector upheld the council’s position on 30th September 2014. The Inspector deemed that the cabin is, for the purposes of planning law, a building. The council reminded the individual that failure to comply with enforcement notices can result in prosecution and/or remedial action as it would be a criminal offence and in July 2015 he was interviewed under caution.
The council sought every opportunity to work with the landowner. The ward councillor, Cllr Jane Martin, visited him in February 2016 to negotiate access to the site to remove the portacabin. This was an attempt to encourage him to allow the council access to the site – as opposed to forcing this upon him – to allow contractors to physically remove the cabin and hence secure compliance with the notice.
More time was given to the owner to clear the portacabin, due to family illness. With this done, work was ultimately carried out on 14th August 2017, with the structure dismantled and taken away by a council-appointed contractor.
Cllr Paul Clokie, Ashford Borough Council’s portfolio holder for planning, said: “It is imperative that when formal action is taken by the council, and upheld, that compliance with notices is achieved in order to remedy the harm caused by the unauthorised development. This will secure public confidence in the planning system and is consistent with our robust approach to planning enforcement matters.
“We are determined to take much firmer enforcement action across a range of matters and this is just one of a number of cases that has resulted in the level of enforcement across the entire borough being markedly increased. It is clear though that when an enforcement notice is served it should be taken as clear commitment that this authority will pursue formal action if the planning breach is not remedied.”
Cllr Jane Martin, ward member for Saxon Shore, said: “On this occasion it has taken a little while longer than the council and nearby residents may have hoped to resolve this issue. This in part reflects the complexity of the planning enforcement process and the council’s need to work with people to resolve the issue as amicably as possible. However, I am pleased that this has matter has been brought to a satisfactory conclusion.”
Media release 0243/17
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