Enforcement Notice pending

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Dookie
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Joined: Thu Nov 07, 2019 12:02 pm

Enforcement Notice pending

Post by Dookie » Fri Nov 29, 2019 9:23 am

Hi all... I'm new here...this is my first post, so please go gently with me! :)

I think it was John Lennon who (prophetically) quoted; "Life is what happens when you are making plans"... and this is very true.

My husband and I, (both pensioners), had to sell our home a few years back, as we could no longer keep up the mortgage payments... there was other stuff as well, which I won't go into, but a Charging Order of £30k needed to be paid off as there was a possible Order for Sale pending, etc.

We didn't have enough equity left over to buy another home, but decided to buy a plot of land which, at some point, might allow for residential occupation, and in the meantime, we decided to rent.

The plot, of just under an acre, is classified as Previously Developed Land... (brownfield?)...there is a small building on it, a redundant pumping station, which has been granted permission to use as an office, (B1). The land is in the greenbelt and was previously agricultural until it was acquired by a water company 100 years ago.

I decided to create a small wildlife reserve on the land, (this has been a lifelong ambition), it has been uncultivated for so long and is covered in wild flowers and a diversity of grasses... lots of wildlife here too and after I cleared out the ditch and put water back in, I was thrilled to see it being used by endangered Water Voles.

I though that we'd use the small building as a 'rest room' and to shelter from bad weather, etc., and I've insulated the roof and put some kitchen units in, along with a table to eat lunch and a WC... We installed a sewage treatment plant on the land, and services, although there is a well on site, the water is clean but salty, so we went for mains drainage. There was already electricity at a pole nearby, so that was easy.

Now comes our mistake... We decided that we needed an additional building to store gardening tools and to use as a potting shed. We thought there would be automatic permitted rights for this and as it's open countryside, we needed to treat it sympathetically, so we went for a grain silo... there are several of these nearby which are used for storage by businesses, so it did not look incongruous or out of place... I built a mezzanine inside to use as an art studio, and all was going swimmingly... or so I thought. I think you can guess what happened next.

Yes... a visit from the planning enforcement officers. They just turned up one day without an appointment and told me that the silo was 'unauthorised development' there being an Article 4 Direction in place to preserve the open aspect of the land, and that I should make a retrospective application, which would be very unlikely to succeed, due to it being on the greenbelt. They told me to get some advice from a planning consultant, which, in due course, I did.

The planning consultant asked me if I'd had anything in writing since the enforcement officer's site visit some weeks before. She said I could either make the application straight away, but I was under no obligation to do so until I had received written correspondence.

As I'd not had anything in writing and was not really in a hurry to make the application, I decided to wait....and after a year went by, there came another visit.

This time, I was told that if I didn't make the retrospective application, (which was likely to be refused anyway), I would be sent an Enforcement Notice without any further discussion, (possibly before Christmas!). The enforcement officer told me that I was wrong in believing that there needed to be anything in writing, and that my planning consultant had given me misleading advice. :(

I sent an email to the planning officer to say that I would be complying with their advice, and asked for time to speak to my planning consultant to prepare the application. They did not reply.

I immediately tried to contact my planning consultant to try and find out what I should do next, but unfortunately, she is on maternity leave until March.

I don't really want to change my planning consultant and would prefer to wait until March, but am worried that the enforcement notice will arrive before I get the chance to make my application.

I'm wondering what to do for the best.... should I email the enforcement officer again and ask for a stay/delay so that I can prepare my application? (Which I've been told will be thrown out anyway?)

Or should I just wait for the enforcement notice and appeal it? Would this be less costly?

I would be so grateful for any suggestions....

Kind regards, Dookie.

mr sheen
Posts: 2487
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 2:33 pm

Re: Enforcement Notice pending

Post by mr sheen » Fri Nov 29, 2019 1:22 pm

If you breach planning regs then the LA are likely to take action against you to protect the environment and the community. Your personal circumstances are irrelevant otherwise LAs would have to allow the millions with restricted income or limited resources to buy up bits of land everywhere and set up sheds, campervanS, caravans, shipping containers, shanty towns etc and live in them all over the place.

You have agreed to comply with the notice so what is the issue? Or are you looking for your planning consultant to come up with a defence rather than follow through with your agreement to comply?

Houses in some areas can be bought for less than you paid for an acre of land. You could have owned a home and saved you rent and still could consider this option if a home to live in is what you are seeking.

Dookie
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Nov 07, 2019 12:02 pm

Re: Enforcement Notice pending

Post by Dookie » Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:43 pm

Thank you for your advice, Mr. Sheen...

I have to agree with you; nobody wants to see the countryside littered with 'shanty' towns... but what's happening here in the South East is just as bad... in this area of Essex we have been absolutely swamped with vast, horrible housing estates, all on greenbelt land... some are in conservation areas... it seems the developers just pay the LA a sum of money 'to mitigate against the environmental impact of the development', and Bob's your uncle! :(

Most people who see my silo for the first time think that it has been here forever as part of the agricultural landscape... Even the enforcement officer told me in an aside that she actually likes it, but that the rules don't allow for any development as the rights were removed. She told me I'd probably be ok if I knocked down the original building and just kept the silo... but I think it would be a shame to take something away that has been part of the history of the area for the past 100 years... She was impressed that I had researched the history and wanted to remain sympathetic to it... but rules are rules, as you say.
The reason I'd need to get a planning consultant involved, I think, is so that I can provide the LA with a letter of support to show that I care about the environment and want to put something back. My hopes are that I can create a small nature reserve, which, once it is up and running, can provide local schools with an area to study wildlife.

If I was a traveller, there would be no problem at all... my LA has not provided a single pitch for travellers, so whenever a planning case comes up locally, as it does quite frequently, the appeal succeeds, as they have nowhere else to go...so the shanty towns are taking over. It's a great shame as Essex is quite beautiful in places.
As for my plot, it is criss crossed with large electricity pylons and telegraph poles... there is a solar farm opposite and numerous, modern farm buildings within a few hundred metres. This is not an area of outstanding beauty and the article 4 direction does not really serve much of a purpose, to be honest.

The land, if it remains unused, which it has done since 1986, will just fall into scrub... the building will be vandalised, as has happened in the past and the gateway will return to being a favourite spot for fly tipping.

Surely it would be better if there was someone here who cares about the countryside and the environment and is actively working to encourage the survival of endangered species?

The way things are going, it will be yet another refusal from the LA to allow any useful occupation of the property, and it will become overgrown scrubland once more.

PS: I'm not sure where it is that you can buy a home for the price of an acre of non-development land... but it certainly isn't here! I won't be moving away as I need my family at this time in my life. Maybe if I was a bit younger ... but my time is limited now and family is everything.

mr sheen
Posts: 2487
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 2:33 pm

Re: Enforcement Notice pending

Post by mr sheen » Mon Dec 02, 2019 6:13 pm

Many many people, who also care for nature and the environment and ‘want to put something back’, would like to live in the SE of England but land and property there is one of the most expensive in the UK ( as you point out). Most people can’t afford the luxury of living in the SE and so, Buy or rent where they can afford. Some houses in parts of Liverpool have sold for £1 and some in parts of Wales and the NE can be bought for £30k. You choose to live in one of the most expensive areas of the UK.

On the plus side, If the land returns to scrubland it will provide a good natural habitat and important ecosystem supporting biodiversity so that will support your values so a win/win could result.

cleo5
Posts: 355
Joined: Mon May 18, 2015 12:33 pm

Re: Enforcement Notice pending

Post by cleo5 » Mon Dec 02, 2019 11:53 pm

Dookie,
Can you afford to take the silo down if ordered to o so?
Why didn't you just put up a shed? Or one of these lovely Shepherds huts on wheels?

Whatever the land was before you seem to be using it well.
Letting it just go wild is a pain if you are getting near retirement or well past it. You cannot cope with the brambles and bracken, weeds and tree overgrowth. Believe me.
Land needs to be managed, wherever it is, by either grazing animals or human effort.

A nice bit of wild flower meadow wouldn't go amiss. We had lady,s smock growing in a great swathe of pale pink scented flowers in Spring. It just appeared inthe grass and the bees and insects loved it.. Now tulips are planted in the grass for next spring and some wild orchid seed sown.
Mr Sheen,
Those Liverpool houses for£1 needed £ 30K spending on each of them to make them habitable.

ukmicky
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Re: Enforcement Notice pending

Post by ukmicky » Mon Dec 02, 2019 11:56 pm

It’s an article 4 direction which removes permitted development rights and can even stop someone putting up simple fences.


You need to go on the council website and view the article direction .if you have breached its conditions you will not win at appeal.

Don’t try taking on the council if you can’t win, it’s better to talk to them and keep them on your side and look for an alternative solution ,even if it means removing the silo.
Any information provided is not legal advice and you are advised to gain a professional opinion

Dookie
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Nov 07, 2019 12:02 pm

Re: Enforcement Notice pending

Post by Dookie » Tue Dec 03, 2019 9:37 am

mr sheen wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 6:13 pm
Many many people, who also care for nature and the environment and ‘want to put something back’, would like to live in the SE of England but land and property there is one of the most expensive in the UK ( as you point out). Most people can’t afford the luxury of living in the SE and so, Buy or rent where they can afford. Some houses in parts of Liverpool have sold for £1 and some in parts of Wales and the NE can be bought for £30k. You choose to live in one of the most expensive areas of the UK.

On the plus side, If the land returns to scrubland it will provide a good natural habitat and important ecosystem supporting biodiversity so that will support your values so a win/win could result.
Mr. Sheen... I didn't 'choose' to live here... I was born here and have never lived more than 40 miles distance from my place of birth... my family are here and we are very close. I have never been to Liverpool or even ventured north of Watford, and would probably be like a fish out of water there. The land needs to be managed very carefully to support wilflife... it's not a case of sit back and do nothing. I cleared and widened a ditch which had dried up due to lack of maintenance... now water voles are swimming about in it.... :)

Dookie
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Nov 07, 2019 12:02 pm

Re: Enforcement Notice pending

Post by Dookie » Tue Dec 03, 2019 9:57 am

ukmicky wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 11:56 pm
It’s an article 4 direction which removes permitted development rights and can even stop someone putting up simple fences.


You need to go on the council website and view the article direction .if you have breached its conditions you will not win at appeal.

Don’t try taking on the council if you can’t win, it’s better to talk to them and keep them on your side and look for an alternative solution ,even if it means removing the silo.
Hi ukmickey.... Thanks for your post...the art.4 directive is to ensure that the open space remains in the greenbelt, and is usually applied to areas of special interest and conservation areas, etc.,... but this land is nothing special because of the pylons/solar farm/gas pumping station, etc, which I mentioned.

A couple of miles away is a beautiful, very ancient church which used to sit on it's own, up on a hill in a conservation area... totally unspoilt until a large developer built dozens of horribly designed houses just a few yards from the church... it's this disparity which I don't understand, where green belt land is just concreted over if you have the money to offer for 'mitigation' purposes...
My silo blends very well into the agricultural surroundings & unlike bricks and mortar, it's bolted together so is semi-permanent.
I suppose the rules must apply, though and I would certainly not contemplate any litigation.

If I'm asked to pull it down, then I will... but it's game over for my dream...

MacadamB53
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Re: Enforcement Notice pending

Post by MacadamB53 » Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:04 am

Hi Dookie,

it's game over for my dream...

don’t give up on your dream - just modify it to include “making sure I don’t break the law”.

kind regards, Mac

Dookie
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Nov 07, 2019 12:02 pm

Re: Enforcement Notice pending

Post by Dookie » Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:22 am

cleo5 wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 11:53 pm
Dookie,
Can you afford to take the silo down if ordered to o so?
Why didn't you just put up a shed? Or one of these lovely Shepherds huts on wheels?

Whatever the land was before you seem to be using it well.
Letting it just go wild is a pain if you are getting near retirement or well past it. You cannot cope with the brambles and bracken, weeds and tree overgrowth. Believe me.
Land needs to be managed, wherever it is, by either grazing animals or human effort.

A nice bit of wild flower meadow wouldn't go amiss. We had lady,s smock growing in a great swathe of pale pink scented flowers in Spring. It just appeared inthe grass and the bees and insects loved it.. Now tulips are planted in the grass for next spring and some wild orchid seed sown.
Mr Sheen,
Those Liverpool houses for£1 needed £ 30K spending on each of them to make them habitable.
Hello cleo5! Many thanks for your post... I will try and find someone to dismantle it and offer it free of charge in exchange... it is converted with small Crittall windows/doors...
Dw3w1s6WkAIUlqH.jpg
The shepherd huts are amazing, but much too expensive... I paid £1.5k for the silo...and the mezzanine allows space for an art studio, with plenty of room for tool storagee downstairs...

I have been working on the land in preparation for a flower meadow... there is an amazing diversity here already... much is greater knapweed, ox eye daisies, poppies, cornflowers, yarrow, bedstraw- too many to list here... beautiful vetches and grasses... in the rougher area I've just sown yellow rattle and am mosaic mowing to preserve areas of longer vegetation which is used by ground nesting birds. I've put up bat boxes, too, as bats were 'investigating' recently.
There are adders, common lizards & grass snakes here... although the land is visited by the local kestrel, a buzzard and at night a barn owl enjoys the odd field mouse...
I've waited all my life for something like this... just hope there is a way to continue... :?
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mr sheen
Posts: 2487
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 2:33 pm

Re: Enforcement Notice pending

Post by mr sheen » Tue Dec 03, 2019 1:19 pm

That very large ‘silo’ with windows and a ‘mezzanine Art Studio’ is clearly not for agricultural purposes and is on land where development is unlawful. It is highly unlikely that you will be able to convince the LA that the ‘silo’ is there for the benefit of biodiversity and water voles. It is the silo development, as oppose to your activity in maintaining the land, that is unlawful. No one is likely to stop you maintaining ditches and planting wild flowers....the ‘silo’ is not required for such activity to occur.

Dookie
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Nov 07, 2019 12:02 pm

Re: Enforcement Notice pending

Post by Dookie » Tue Dec 03, 2019 3:43 pm

It's not agricultural land.... it is PDL (brownfield) with B1 (business use).

mr sheen
Posts: 2487
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 2:33 pm

Re: Enforcement Notice pending

Post by mr sheen » Tue Dec 03, 2019 5:07 pm

Big concrete base....
gravel surround....
large agricultural ‘silo’ with windows :wink:
and a mezzanine :wink: :wink:

May prove to be a challenge to convince planning officers that all that was done for the purpose of benefiting nature.

IdefixUK
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Re: Enforcement Notice pending

Post by IdefixUK » Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:43 pm

Dookie,
Take a look on the Bailli web site at this:-
Darford Borough Council v The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Ors [2017] EWCA Civ 141. (14 March 2017)
Also :- Dartford Borough Council R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for Local Government [2016] EWHC 635 (Admin) (21 January 2016)
I had a brief look and it seems that these cases concern development of previously developed land,

Regards

cleo5
Posts: 355
Joined: Mon May 18, 2015 12:33 pm

Re: Enforcement Notice pending

Post by cleo5 » Tue Dec 03, 2019 11:15 pm

Dookie,
It,s a very big silo!
Did you plan to live in it eventually ? Or just use it as a studio cum tool store?

No worries really.

If they let you keep it well and good and if they don't then sell it for what you paid for it with proviso buyer dismantles and takes away.

Or you could make a big shed out of it, paint it green and it would fit the landscape better. A couple of see through panels on the roof , a big window to one side and there is your studio.

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