A couple from Charing Heath have been convicted of a total of nine charges following a failure to comply with an Enforcement Notice issued under the Planning Acts.
The Enforcement Notice was issued in 2014 and required the cessation of the residential use of agricultural land, the removal of caravans, timber building and hard-surfacing. The land owner appealed against the notice but it was upheld by the Planning Inspectorate and compliance was due by August 2016.
The defendants had sought an adjournment from the Court, which Ashford Borough Council successfully resisted and the trial was heard at Folkestone Magistrates Court in September.
One defendant was found guilty of all eight charges against him; and his partner to the first charge against her as they failed to move off the land and failed to clear it of the unauthorised development as required by the Enforcement Notice. They were each fined £500 plus £50 victims surcharge as well as being ordered to pay £6,000 in respect of the council’s legal costs.
At present, the caravans remain stationed on the land in residential use and therefore the breach of the enforcement notice continues. In this regard, Ashford Borough Council are considering further legal action.
Cllr Paul Clokie, Ashford Borough Council’s portfolio holder for planning said: “This conviction confirms the seriousness of the offence under the Planning Acts.
“Planning law exists to ensure that developments are considered in terms of their environmental and social impacts and it is unfair on our law-abiding residents if others circumvent the proper process.
“Additionally we need to make sure we protect the public purse by recovering our costs in instances such as this.”