December 13 2013 Latest news:
Monday, August 26, 2013
A Suffolk landowner as been hit with a £500 fine after ignoring an enforcement notice issued for planning control breaches.
Robert Foster, of Hill Farm, Drabbs Lane, Clopton, near Woodbridge, was involved in a drawn out dispute with Suffolk Coastal District Council over whether or not he could live on the land in a mobile home.
Foster had been handed four enforcement notices in July 2009 and ordered to move off the farm – a decision upheld by the Secretary of State.
His initial appeals against all four enforcement notices were dismissed by the Planning Inspectorate in March 2010, following a planning inquiry at which Foster was legally represented.
After taking his case to the High Court in 2011 and losing, he was given until January last year to abide by the ruling, which supported the council’s claim that Foster changed the use of his land from agriculture to a mixed use of agriculture and use as a caravan site for residential purposes.
He had been refused permission for a Lawful Use Certificate for the caravans, and had an application for a new dwelling and retention of caravans with an agricultural restriction rejected.
Foster maintained that he was allowed to leave his mobile home where it was, as the original ruling related to two caravans which had since been removed.
Suffolk Coastal prosecuted Foster for failing to comply with the enforcement notice. At the first hearing, in May 2013, he pleaded not guilty and elected to have the case heard in the magistrates’ court.
He argued that he had complied with the enforcement notice conditions while choosing to represent himself at the trial relating to the civil action.
At South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court, in Ipswich, Foster was found guilty, fined £500 and ordered to pay £250 costs.
A council spokesman said: “We always encourage people to take enforcement notices seriously and comply with them immediately.
“This long-running case sends out a clear message as it demonstrates the council’s commitment to taking robust action against those people who fail to comply with enforcement notices.”