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Enforcement action leads to clean-up of Bideford site and costs for owners

Bideford Enforcement

Torridge District Council has taken action to clear up an eyesore site in Valley End, Bideford. The site had become littered with caravans and bathroom fittings and despite numerous warnings, issued under section 215 notices, the owner refused to comply with the directive. Section 215 notices can be served where the condition of the land or buildings adversely affects the amenity of an area.

The landowner was requested to cease the unauthorised use of the land as far back as 2016 with a notice issued requiring the caravans and bathroom fittings to be removed. The Notice was not complied with and in June 2017 the landowner was convicted at Barnstaple Magistrate Court for failing to comply with the Notice. They were fined £180 with £30 victims surcharge and £300 prosecution costs.

The owners appealed their conviction at Exeter Crown Court but the appeal was dismissed. The Council was awarded its full cost of defending the appeal which amounted to £2,744. The condition of the land had deteriorated further since the original notice had been served and following the Crown Court decision, the landowner was advised to clear the land immediately or face further legal action.   

The land was not cleared and a second section 215 notice was served but once again the Notice was not complied with. As a result in May 2018, the Council took direct action and cleared the site. The Council will now seek to recover its costs from the landowner, which are estimated to be around £10,000.

Lead Member for Planning - Councillor Pete Watson said:

" Anybody that owns a piece of land or building has a responsibility to keep it in good order and to make sure that it doesn't become an eyesore for the rest of the community. This is especially true in Torridge where we are fortunate to have an abundance of stunning natural landscape.

Where possible we try to work with owners to address issues such as those highlighted in this case. However the owners refusal to engage or do anything about the site has led to the courts imposing significant fines and their will now be further charges related to our direct intervention. This should be a warning to others not to let property or land slip into neglect or use them in such a way that adversely impacts on the surrounding area"

29 June 2018