Released on 12 September 2017 Press Release
Stratford-on-Avon District Council has been told by magistrates that they can take enforcement action against a couple in Long Itchington who concealed the use of a garage as a residential dwelling.
Nuneaton Magistrates Court made the order against Mr Hickinbotham and his partner Ms Jacqueline Shearsby of Little Paddocks, Collingham Lane, Long Itchington having been satisfied that the breach of planning control had taken place.
The court heard that Mr Hickinbotham made an application on 15 December 2016 to the District Council for a Certificate of Lawful Use and Development (CLEUD) in relation to the garage at the property at Little Paddocks. The couple provided the District Council with sworn affidavits in support of the CLEUD application in which they stated that in June 2011 the garage was converted from a normal garage into a 'habitable residential dwelling' and that it had been permanently occupied since 27 April 2012.
The District Council only become aware of the change of use of the garage on 15 December 2016 when it received the CLEUD application. Taking this into account, this meant that the four year period during which the District Council would normally have been able to take enforcement action for an unauthorised change of use expired on 27 April 2016. Following further investigations by the District Council it found that there had been a breach of planning control and the breach was deliberately concealed. Where deliberate concealment is involved the Council can apply to the Courts for a Planning Enforcement Order which, if granted, enables the Council to pursue enforcement action beyond the relevant 4 year period.
The magistrates accepted that a breach of planning had taken place and went on to say that there had been deliberate concealment and therefore made the Planning Enforcement Order. The Court awarded costs of £7,145.65 to the District Council.
Cllr Simon Lawton, Chairman of Regulatory Committee says: "Planning regulations are there to protect against unauthorised development. The Council will consider this Court process to prevent breaches becoming immune from enforcement action where a breach has been deliberately concealed to avoid enforcement action."
Stratford-on-Avon District Council
Elizabeth House, Church Street,
Tel: 01789 267 575