SSDC enforcement squashed

Last month we wrote about SSDC introducing a new planning enforcement policy. Without noting anywhere how the new policy differed from the old one, it was put out for consultation.

When we say “consultation” some clarification is needed. The documents were dated 28th April.They went out for consultation until 13th May. That meant the consultation will last barely a fortnight.

The main focus of the new policy on planning enforcement, seems to be to give SSDC considerable power not to do any enforcing. It is littered with phrases such as “considered expedient”. In other words if SSDC doesn’t consider it expedient it can do nothing with impunity.

Today we came across an example of why the council may be motivated to enact a policy that gives them a “get out of jail free card”.

SSDC took enforcement action on land at Mill Lane, Pitcombe just outside the town of Bruton. The landowner appealed against the Enforcement Notice and the matter was sent to the Planning Inspectorate to review and reach a decision. They reached that decision last week on the 14 May.

At issue in part was whether a container and caravan were used for storage or not. However as the Inspector notes “the first of the allegations in the notice is that two shipping containers have been stored on the land. The Council has agreed in its submissions that there is only one container on the land. During its investigations, the Council did not inspect the interior of the container, and I have no firm evidence to show that it inspected the interior of the caravan. It determined that, as both had been placed on the land without any justification, they were being stored there. “

The inspector concluded that SSDC had not done their work properly, the enforcement notice was defective and therefore quashed. As a result, plans that the council and to some extent the Inspector agree should not be allowed, can go ahead. All because of a defective enforcement notice.

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