Allerdale Borough Council has used powers it has under the Town and Country Planning Act to prosecute those who breach planning regulation notices. The cases, heard at Workington Magistrates Court on 8 August 2017, relate to breaches of agreed planning conditions and notices regarding untidy sites.
Story Homes was found guilty of failing to comply with the requirements of a Breach of Condition Notice relating to the times when work is allowed on their development site at Strawberry Grange in Cockermouth. When planning permission was granted for the houses, it was on the condition that work would only be allowed between 7:30am and 6pm Monday to Friday and between 8am to 1pm on Saturdays. However, at the Court hearing the development company pleaded guilty to breaching these conditions, admitting that work had taken place outside of the hours allowed.
The council originally served a breach of condition notice on Story Homes in September 2016 after it had received complaints from local residents that construction work had taken place outside of the agreed hours. However, despite this, the council continued to receive complaints and was therefore left with no option but to prosecute the firm.
Admitting the offences, Story Homes told the court that measures and procedures were now in place to ensure compliance with the agreed Construction Management Plan. The company was fined £500 with a victim surcharge of £50 and a contribution to the council’s costs of £100.
Two individuals were also prosecuted for failing to comply with the requirements of a Section 215 untidy site notice – a legal order which is used when a local authority considers that the condition of land or buildings is having a harmful effect on the area.
Robert Blair of Barnes Road, Workington, had previously been found guilty in November 2016 of failing to comply with a notice issued by the council in May 2016. He was previously fined £300 with a victim surcharge of £30 and a contribution to the costs of the council of £100. The council had taken action against Mr Blair after he had failed to clear a large amount of waste materials from his property.
The court heard how Mr Blair had continued to fail to comply with the notice and the material remained on his property. Mr Blair pleaded guilty and explained that personal circumstances had prevented him from getting the material removed. He informed the court that work was to start on clearing the material as soon as possible. Mr Blair was ordered to pay a fine of £600 with a victim surcharge of £60 and a contribution towards the council’s costs of £100.
The court also heard how John Wright, of Dunmail Crescent in Cockermouth, had similarly failed to comply with a Section 215 untidy site notice which had been issued by the council in relation to the state of his house which had fallen into disrepair. Mr Wright had originally been served notice in September 2015 which required him to make repairs to the outside of his home and remove overgrown plants from his garden. A year later he was found guilty of failing to comply with that notice. At that hearing the court had fined Mr Wright £300 together with a victim surcharge of £30 and a contribution to the council’s costs of £100. Since then Mr Wright had failed to make the improvements to his home and therefore had not met the requirements of the notice. Hearing the case in Mr Wright’s absence, the court issued a further fine of £1,200 with a victim surcharge of £120 and a contribution to the council’s costs of £100.
Both Mr Blair and Mr Wright are now expected to ensure they do all they can to comply with the notices as soon as is practicable.
Mark Fryer, Executive Member with responsibility for economic growth, said: “The council takes legal action as a last resort and we’d prefer to work with the individuals concerned to come to an outcome everyone is happy with. However, these cases show that if people repeatedly fail to comply with the planning rules then we will use every power we have to take action.”