30th May 2023
Significant enforcement action requiring the removal of three fishing lakes has been successfully appealed by Thrings, with planning inspectors quashing an enforcement notice following a three-year legal battle against the local council.
The application for the fishery, outlining the creation of the lakes, a stock pond and a series of ancillary buildings, was initially granted against officers’ advice by Kettering Borough Council in 2010, alongside a change in use of land for the siting of a mobile home and the creation of car parking and access.
In 2020, the council served an enforcement notice, claiming the planning permission had lapsed, having not been implemented within the required three-year window.
Further claims were made that the site was being used for other purposes not linked to the planning permission, including mining of minerals, processing and depositing of waste materials and the storage and use of machinery in relation to the two activities.
Representing the site’s owner, an earthmoving contractor who had been completing the scheme in his spare time, Thrings’ Planning and Environment team took the position from day one that the council’s decision to undertake enforcement procedures was inaccurate as no mining or waste operations were occurring.
The proceedings culminated in a three-day public inquiry in April, after which the inspector concluded that the Council were incorrect to allege the breach of planning control in the way it was set out in the enforcement notice. She held that there was sufficient evidence to confirm the consented scheme had been validly implemented through the works carried out on site following the discharge of the relevant pre-commencement conditions
She also found that there was no evidence that there was any mining or waste processing operations occurring which could be characterised as part of unauthorised mixed use and that any such operations were wholly associated with the creation of the lakes.
In the decision to quash the enforcement notice, the inspector also noted that any amendments to the notice would cause prejudice to the appellants as they were not afforded the opportunity to appeal the refusal of planning permission for the retrospective amendments to the scheme.
Fred Quartermain, Partner in the Thrings Planning and Environment team, said: “We are delighted on behalf of our client that the planning inspector agreed with our view of the way in which this scheme is being delivered. This was further demonstrated by how quick they were in turning the decision around.
“This was a clear case of a local planning authority reacting to complaints from the local community and carrying out enforcement without fully understanding the implications of their allegation.
“Fighting enforcement procedures can be both time consuming and costly and we would always recommend landowners seek out sound legal advice early in the planning process to ensure their efforts are not in vain and their application has the best chance for success.”
The Thrings Planning and Environment team has extensive experience in navigating complex local and national planning policy legislation and has successfully supported commercial and residential applications through the approval and appeal processes. To find out more and for advice on your development proposals, including how to address enforcement notices, please do get in touch.