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Archive for Planning Enforcement

Tonight’s Council Meeting

It was reasonably lively but without any bad temper. Here’s a few points:

Council Chairman June Lumley was admirably frugal tonight. Most Council Chairman request a buffet with wine for councillors on the night of the December meeting. June didn’t do this, but did arrange refreshments to the public who attended the Civic Carol Service on Sunday, which raised about £245 for charity.

Green Party Leader Michael Hoy made the best point of the evening. The decision to offer free parking on 3 Saturday afternoons before Christmas was taken as “an urgent item” which couldn’t be challenged. Michael asked why the decision was taken so late in the year that it had to be an urgent item. “Didn’t the Council know Christmas was coming?” The answer given was that the council didn’t know it could afford this until quite late in the year. John Mason and Chris Black followed this up later with some forensic questioning , which revealed that the council knew in June it had about £60,000 available – the cost of 3 free Saturday afternoons was about £9,000. Chris Black asked for an earlier decision next year, which might allow an extra free afternoon, either earlier in December or just after Xmas.

UKIP leader John Hayter had a go at the adoption of the “Development Management Plan”: This is basically a new version of the council’s “Bible” of planning policies. Not the zoning of land for development, but all the other policies. Things like the design of new developments, housing density, infilling of gardens, phone masts, what is allowed in the Green Belt, green tourism, playing pitches and other leisure and recreational uses…. John criticised the document because of all the new development proposed in the district, but John Mason, Chris Black, and Michael Hoy pointed out that he was criticising the wrong document for that.

The Tories best part of the night was a report showing that the council’s financial situation was improving.

Ron Oatham made it clear his opinion of central government when John Mason asked whether a certain financial amount “was being lost back to central government, or worse?” Ron immediately called out “Could anything BE worse?”

Chris Black asked how many planning enforcement cases were currently ongoing – the answer was 362, just four less than last year. He asked what could be done to reduce this figure quicker, and was told they would soon have three members of staff again, instead of the current two.

Full Council Next Tuesday Night

The are two District Council meetings open to the public next week. Both start at 7:30 pm at the Civic Suite (opposite Rayleigh Church). Tuesday night has Full Council, Thursday night has Development Committee.

Some of the items at Full Council are:

2 formal questions from Chris Black to Cllr Ian Ward:

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Revised Budget Estimates for the current financial year:

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Adoption of the “Development Management Plan”:
This is basically a new version of the council’s “Bible” of planning policies. Not the zoning of land for development, but all the other policies. Things like the design of new developments, housing density, infilling of gardens, phone masts, what is allowed in the Green Belt, green tourism, playing pitches and other leisure and recreational uses…. You can download the 50 page document from this page.

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Adoption of the “London Southend Airport and Environs Joint Area Action Plan” :
This is another weighty document, which you also can download from this page.

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And finally, an important item about restructuring the staff organisation at the District Council:

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Cheshunt Drive

CHESHUNT DRIVE 2

The District Council released the following press release yesterday:

Prevention of Travellers’ site on Greenbelt

Rochford District Council has successfully negotiated a solution to block travellers moving onto a greenbelt site in Rawreth.

This comes after the authority’s Legal and Planning Officers attended the High Court on Friday, October 17, in relation to the site off Cheshunt Drive, Rayleigh.

The council had previously obtained an interim injunction to prevent a residential occupation of the site ahead of the August bank Holiday weekend.

It was deemed prudent to take this action rather than deal with the aftermath of any Travellers’ site being established, potentially saving the Council hundreds of thousands of pounds.

A further hearing was not due to be held on October 30, but the parties were able to negotiate an agreeable solution without the need for a full hearing, saving considerable time and money.

It was agreed that the defendant give a legal undertaking (a consensual promise) to the Court, instead of an injunction, not to:

1. use the site as gypsy or traveller pitch

2. erect, build or allow caravans, mobile homes, sheds, structures or storage facilities

3. introduce hardstanding onto the site

4. install or connect services to the site

The Court accepted this undertaking and it is now legally binding.

The legal effect of the undertaking is the same as an injunction. If the defendant were to breach this undertaking they could be held in Contempt of Court, which is punishable ultimately by imprisonment.

Rochford District Council’s Portfolio holder for Planning, Councillor Ian Ward, said: “I am delighted that we have negotiated with the landowner to prevent a Traveller’s site from becoming established in this greenbelt location. This agreement is legally binding and is the best possible outcome for this site.

“Rochford District Council decided to take pre-emptive action in this case, rather than risk a situation where we could have to shell out hundreds of thousands of pounds on an eviction.

“However, I would also emphasise that the Council is taking steps to provide suitable space for Gypsies and Travellers through our Allocations Plan, which has provision for a lawful site at Michelins Farm which should reduce the potential for illegal encampments elsewhere.”

Where Is Cheshunt Drive?

Cheshunt Drive today

Cheshunt Drive today

CHESHUNT DRIVE MAP

If you are wondering where Cheshunt Drive is, it is along Rawreth Lane, between Priory Chase and Trenders Avenue. There is no road name shown on Google Maps , perhaps because it is an unmade road with no houses.

District Council Takes Pre-Emptive Action Against Travellers

From the District Council website yesterday:

Rochford District Council has successfully obtained a High Court Interim Injunction to block travellers moving onto a greenbelt site in Rawreth.

The High Court Order was obtained as a pre-emptive measure to prevent the site off Cheshunt Drive, off Rawreth Lane, from being used as a Gypsy/Traveller site.

The move was taken by the Council because hardcore and fencing had appeared on the site, and it was considered necessary and expedient to take action to prevent a residential occupation of the site.
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It was viewed that it would be prudent to take action ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend rather than deal with the aftermath of any Travellers’ site being established.

By taking pre-emptive action, this could save the Council hundreds of thousands of pounds associated with a situation where Travellers have already settled on a site.

If the landowner were to breach the Interim Injunction they would be in Contempt of Court, which is punishable ultimately by imprisonment.
_____
The order means the landowner cannot:

Use the site as a Gypsy/Traveller pitch
Erect, bring or allow caravans or mobile homes (of any type whatsoever including touring or static), sheds, structures or storage facilities on the site
Introduce hardstanding onto the site
Carry out any building works or engineering operations whatsoever including but not limited to the installation, or connection to, services on the site.
_______
Rochford District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Planning, Councillor Ian Ward, said: “Rochford District Council has successfully obtained a High Court Interim Injunction to block travellers moving onto a greenbelt site in Rawreth.

“We’ve all heard of the horror stories where councils have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds to evict Travellers from a site which is unsuitable. It would seem much more sensible to take pre-emptive action where it is necessary. This is a much cheaper and more effective option, which saves the taxpayer from having to shell out large sums of money.

“The Council will not hesitate in taking firm and decisive action against those who breach planning rules.

“I would also emphasise that the Council is taking steps to provide suitable space for Gypsies and Travellers through our Allocations Plan, which has provision for a lawful site at Michelins Farm.”

The Council will pursue a full injunction at the High Court next week.

Ron and Chris were consulted on this, and were in full support…

Michelins Farm Jail Sentence

michelins

From the District Council website:


Date:
Friday, 11 July 2014

Land owner Roger Frederick Phipps, aged 72, has today (Fri 11 Jul) been sent to prison for six months.

Chelmsford Crown Court activated part of a suspended sentence given in January last year for a waste offence after he was convicted of breaching advertisement regulations; alongside his continued breaches of planning and environmental laws.
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Phipps was sentenced in 2013 to eight months imprisonment and ordered to carry out 180 hours unpaid work for allowing an illegal waste site to be run on his farm for years. He was also fined £15,000 for breaching three planning enforcement notices and the Environment Agency and Council were jointly awarded £20,000 in costs.

The prison sentence was suspended for two years.

Since then, the court heard, he has carried out the unpaid work but has yet to pay the court costs and fines. He has failed to remove the majority of the waste from the farm by 30 June 2014, and has continued to display advertisements without consent on his land.

Michelins Farm, Rayleigh, did not have a waste permit nor planning permission to operate the site for waste purposes and it was run without an environmental permit from April 2008-11. The farm is on green belt land and is within a Landscape Improvement Area.
+++++
Site visits undertaken by the Council and the Environment Agency had observed plastics, tyres, building materials, cylinders, and plastic piping and these were seen in 35 fires that the fire service had to attend in 2010-2011.

Environment Agency officers carried out covert surveillance in May 2010 and saw lorries taking waste into the site and at the same time saw smoke regularly coming from the farm. Aerial photos taken by Council officers also demonstrated to the Court the full scale of the damage being caused by Mr Phipps.

Judge David Turner said Phipps had been given by the Court, the Environment Agency and the Council every opportunity to comply with the law and had not done so.
+++++
The Leader of Rochford District Council, Councillor Terry Cutmore said: “It is clear that Mr Phipps’ breach of the advertisement regulations was yet another example of his fragrant and deliberate disregard for the law. Mr Phipps has continued to breach planning regulations despite previously receiving a suspended sentence for similar offences, and it is right that the Court has taken this into account in giving Mr Phipps a 6 month prison sentence. Whilst the council sees legal action as a last resort it will not stand for any inappropriate actions from people who choose to ignore planning laws”.

“It is clear that Mr Phipps’ breach of the advertisement regulations was yet another example of his fragrant and deliberate disregard for the law. Mr Phipps has continued to breach planning regulations despite previously receiving a suspended sentence for similar offences, and it is right that the Court has taken this into account in giving Mr Phipps a 6 month prison sentence. Whilst the council sees legal action as a last resort it will not stand for any inappropriate actions from people who choose to ignore planning laws”.

366!

We know that there’s a lot of unhappiness about the proposed over-development of Rawreth and Hullbridge at the moment, and in the council chamber that feeling is even spreading from the Lib Dem/ Green Party / Rochford Residents corner into some of the Conservative benches. But not all is gloom and doom, there are at least a couple of bright spots on the horizon.

Firstly, the council’s new long-term grounds maintenance contract kicks in from Monday morning. We have a new contractor for maintaining our open spaces and grass verges. This is a good time of year for a new contractor to take over – it gives them time to settle before plants start growing in the spring. Let’s hope – no, let’s expect an overall improvement!

Secondly, things are improving with planning enforcement. Three years ago we raised the issue in the council chamber about the number of planning enforcement cases waiting to be dealt with – the number was a staggering 466

It got even worse – rising to 542 last year.

Even our Conservative administration were starting to feel embarrassed, and so employed an extra planning enforcement officer. We heard today that the number of outstanding cases is now down to 366. Still too high, but it’s still a rapid improvement.

Michelin: 8 Months Suspended Sentence + £15,000 Fine + £20,000 Costs

The Environment Agency have issued the following press release:

Prison sentence for ‘cantankerous’ land owner

Fines, unpaid work and land clearance also ordered

Land owner Roger Frederick Phipps has been sentenced to eight months imprisonment and ordered to carry out 180 hours unpaid work for allowing an illegal waste site to be run on his farm for years. He was also fined £15,000 for breaching two planning enforcement notices.

The prison sentence was suspended for two years and Phipps has been ordered to remove the waste from the farm in four stages by 30 Jan 2014. He was also told to pay a contribution of £20,000 towards prosecution costs.

Michelins Farm, Rayleigh did not have a waste permit nor planning permission to operate the site, Chelmsford Crown Court heard today (Tues).

The site was run without an environmental permit from April 2008-11.

Mr Mark Watson, prosecuting for the Environment Agency and Rochford District Council, said two enforcement notices had been served by the council on Phipps in 2002 for breaches of planning control at Michelins Farm.

He was told to stop storing tyres, vehicles, waste and caravans and to remove them. A separate notice required the removal of a lorry back and three mobile buildings. Since then only the mobile buildings have been removed.

The farm is on green belt land and was within a Landscape Improvement Area, the court was told.

+++++++

Mr Watson said that between December 2009 and June 2010 Essex County Fire Service attended 35 fires at Michelins Farm, mostly at night when thick black smoke was seen coming from the land.
Plastics, tyres, building materials and cylinders were seen in the fires. The fire service was concerned about the risk to adjoining highways, railways and power supplies.

Environment Agency officers carried out covert surveillance in May 2010 and saw lorries taking waste into the site and at the same time saw smoke regularly coming from the farm.

Officers also went to the farm with police in June following a large fire with a plume of black smoke that could be seen from the A127.

“There was evidence that scrap metal had been removed from the fires and that other waste had been burned in breach of both environmental and planning rules,” he said.

Long windrows of burned material were found at the site as well as electrical, construction and plastic waste.

Phipps was arrested and questioned on 3 June 2010 and further interviewed on 19 July 2010 but offered no comment to questions, Mr Watson told the court.

Waste was still being stored and burned at the farm six months later despite several letters from the council about complying with the enforcement notices.

In mitigation, Mr Leon Kazakos accepted that his client Phipps had developed an entrenched view towards the authorities.

Judge David Turner QC said that although Phipps was an old age pensioner with a limited income, the site had a reasonably significant value and by selling it he would be able to raise the money needed to pay the fines and costs.

In sentencing Phipps, the judge said he had flouted environmental and planning law to a significant degree and for a considerable time and said that the pre-sentence report showed a lack of real acceptance of the situation. “He took an entrenched position and was a cantankerous individual.”

After the hearing Environment Agency officer Kelly Short said: “From photographs it is apparent that significant amounts of waste were taken onto site, stored, sorted and burned. The smoke caused a nuisance and in some cases could have harmed people’s health.

“Phipps knew he needed a permit to run the site but ignored our advice for years.”

“We continue to work closely with Rochford District Council to stop this site operating illegally.”

+++++++

Rochford District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Planning and Transportation, Councillor Keith Hudson said: “Whilst the Council sees legal action as a last resort it will not stand for any breaches of planning regulations. Mr Phipps continued to ignore the planning enforcement notices issued which led to the joint prosecution between Rochford District Council and the Environment Agency.
We have demonstrated by the action that we have taken that Rochford District Council will defend the rights of all our Residents to be able to enjoy their homes and the District in which they live. I believe that the result of this prosecution sends a clear and concise message that this Council will do all that is necessary to ensure the continuing peace and happiness of our Residents by putting a stop to the inappropriate actions of a small minority of people who ignore the laws of the land”.

Phipps pleaded guilty to:

COUNT 1 Guilty

ROGER FREDERICK PHIPPS between 20 June 2005 and 13 April 2011, being the owner and occupier of land at Michelins Farm, Arterial Road, Rayleigh, Essex (“the site”), caused or permitted the site to be used in contravention of an Enforcement Notice in relation to the site dated 20 March 2002 and as varied on 20 November 2002 (“Notice A”), in that (unconnected to the agricultural use of the site):
(a) tyres were stored on the site;
(b) vehicles (including cars, vans, stock cars, trailers, lorries and their backs/containers) were parked and stored on the site;
(c) waste materials including builders rubble, scrap metal, timber, disused fencing panels, vehicle parts including engines, disused plant, tanks and machinery, oil drums, wooden pallets, plastic containers/bottles, gas bottles, telegraph poles, plastic pipes and discarded window frames were stored on the site; and,
(d) caravans were parked in the open area of the site.

COUNT 2 Guilty

ROGER FREDERICK PHIPPS between 20 June 2005 and 13 April 2011, being the owner of land at Michelins Farm, Arterial Road, Rayleigh, Essex (“the site”) and having been served with an Enforcement Notice in relation to the site dated 20 March 2002 and as varied on 20 November 2002 (“Notice A”), failed to comply with the steps required in Notice A in that:
(a) tyres;
(b) vehicles (including cars, vans, stock cars, trailers, lorries and their backs/containers);
(c) waste materials including builders rubble, scrap metal, timber, disused fencing panels, vehicle parts including engines, disused plant, tanks and machinery, oil drums, wooden pallets, plastic containers/bottles, gas bottles, telegraph poles, plastic pipes and discarded window frames; and,
(d) caravans;
unconnected with the agricultural use were not removed from the site.

COUNT 3 Guilty

ROGER FREDERICK PHIPPS between 20 June 2005 and 13 April 2011, being the owner of land at Michelins Farm, Arterial Road, Rayleigh, Essex (“the site”) and having been served with an Enforcement Notice dated 21 March 2002 and as varied on 20 November 2002 (“Notice B1”), failed to comply with the steps required in Notice B1 in that the lorry back (blue in colour and marked ‘Transmec’ and ‘Europe Daily – Thurrock’) in the approximate position indicated ‘W’ on the plan attached to Notice B1 was not removed from the site.

COUNT 7 Guilty

ROGER FREDERICK PHIPPS between 6 April 2010 and 13 April 2011 at Michelins Farm, Arterial Road, Rayleigh, Essex, did knowingly permit the operation a regulated facility for the deposit, storage, treatment and disposal of waste, without an environmental permit.

ENDS

 

542!

The District Council Executive has a meeting on Wednesday. (This is one of those meetings where no Rayleigh Councillor is allowed to speak).

However there are a few items worth reading. You can find the agenda here.

One of the items is the ‘quarterly performance report’. There’s 5 megabytes to download there, and we know that some of our readers like looking at this stuff!

But one item sticks out on page 6.12. The number of planning enforcement cases still ongoing has risen again – to 542. This is a ridiculously high number. Since April 50 new cases have been opened, and only 17 have been closed.

We were shocked two years ago when there were 466 cases outstanding. The Conservatives who run the council must accept responsibility for this.

One issue has been that officers had to prepare for a major planning inquiry, and this has had a further consequence. Only 23 percent of new cases are being visited by officers within the target time.

District County Council Wins On Michelins Farm (More Or Less)

The District County Council took enforcement action on June 29th last year over the land at Michelins Farm (next to the Fairglen Interchange, or Rayleigh Spur).

The council had claimed that the land here was supposed to be agricultural , but had been used for depositing soil, rubble, wood and other waste materials. They issued a notice that the depositing of stuff here had to stop within 1 day, the waste materials had to be removed within 6 months , and the land restored to its previous state within 7 months.

The inspector, Katie Peerless, has just delivered her decision:

There were 3 points of argument here.

Firstly, the appellant argued that there hadn’t been a change of use of the land, and that the materials brought on to the site weren’t really waste – they claimed that some of the material had been brought there to make some waterlogged areas more usable. The inspector disagreed and backed the council.

Secondly, the appellant said that it was difficult, if not impossible to restore the land. The inspector disagreed, saying it was not excessive to require the land to be restored by removing the materials.

Thirdly, the appellant asked for more time , and here the inspector agreed, allowing 12 months for removing the waste materials and 14 months to restore the land…..

Enforcement Action And STOP Notice On Lords

The Echo reports:

THE owners of a golf club have been told to remove a marquee in their grounds after neighbours complained.
_
Rochford District Council has told the club to take down the marquee within three months and it has to stop holding any events in it immediately.
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Residents bordering the golf club, in Hullbridge Road, Rayleigh, said there was music and noise coming from the marquee into the early hours……

As Hullbridge Councillor Michael Hoy explains here

The enforcement notice can be appealed against but the stop notice cannot. It is unusual for a stop notice to be issued and indicates the seriousness in which the Council have taken the problems suffered by residents.

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500 HOUSES BETWEEN LONDON ROAD AND RAWRETH LANE

There's lots of information on the District Council website about the planning application "North of London Road ". To see it , just click here.

The Core Strategy

This is the official master document for planning policy in our district! To download it, click here click here. (2.5mb)

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If you want information on a particular planning application, you can find it on the District Council website here.

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