2015 1st April - WBC refusal of CLU & PR
Here is the main section from the letter to me from WBC, refusing the CLU application & requiringt me to compy with enforcement notice:
"One the 31st March 2015, the council refused your application for a certificate of lawfulness under reference CLE/2014/1462
The enforcement notice isssued by the council on 20th August 2013 remains extant and the time for compliance has now expired. The date for compliance was six months following withdrawal of the appeal. The appeal was withdrawn on 4th April 2014 and compliance should been by 4th October 2014. The Notice has not yet been complied with. I am writing to inform you that as a 'party with interest' in the site you are therefore committing a criminal offence by failing to comply with that notice...
"You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence"
You are requested to supply me within 28 days of the date of this letter, a timetable of full compliance with the notice which if reasonable and aceptable to the Council aND YOU ARE committed to complying with the notice and keeping to the timetable, will enable me to hold in abeyance prosecution proceedings against you for failing to comply with the notice.
Here is the Press Release the council issued simultanously - 31 March 2015
Wokingham Borough Council has regrettably had to refuse a certificate application for lawful use for Hare Hatch Sheeplands garden centre in Twyford, after exhausting all avenues to find a solution.
The borough council has been working with Rob Scott, owner of the garden centre, trying to find a legal way forward to allow the London Road business to continue on site without undermining greenbelt policies.
The council asked for information about the unauthorised business and retail activities, at the site, to determine if any of these could be classed as ‘established’ i.e. existing for more than ten years. If this could have been proved by the owner, these business and retail activities may have been exempt from enforcement action.
But despite giving Mr Scott many opportunities to provide enough evidence supporting his position to keep the unauthorised activities at the site, sadly the evidence submitted is not sufficient to prove his case.
Furthermore, Mr Scott was asked to remove some of the unlawful activities from the site to show his commitment to reaching a compromise – only to be replaced by further unauthorised development. Not only does this significantly undermine the council’s ability to reach a suitable compromise, but it also shows a complete disrespect to greenbelt policy and the current enforcement notice.
Clare Lawrence, head of development management and regulatory services, said: “We have looked at every possible option within our control in the past few years to try and find a solution that wouldn’t undermine planning policies.
“We have tried. But it is vitally important we uphold planning policy to ensure the greenbelt is protected in the future. “
From WBC Website
From our point of view
We are stunned to be contacting all members of staff to speak to them, whilst fielding calls from press. Try hard to reach all staff with the news before they hear it on BBC Radio Berkshire. Considering the "tone" of the letter we issue what we can to press and start to take professional advice.
Our statement was as follows:
"The council's decision is a huge blow to the business, to our employees, our suppliers, the community of Twyford and our customers.
We believe we made a strong case in proving our retail activities over the past ten years, which would have entitled us to a Certificate of Lawful Use.
Our expert consultants also believed that we had done so, but sadly the council did not agree.
We have only received the news today and our immediate concern is to inform our staff.
Only then can we sit down and decide what happens next."