A builder who ignored a stop notice issued by Harrogate Borough Council has been fined £3000 and ordered to pay the council’s costs.
Cosy Homes (York) Limited owns a development site known as the New Forge on Main Street, Great Ouseburn and is currently in the process of constructing a detached house on the site for which permission was granted in August 2013.
This was subject to a number of conditions including one which required that the council receive a report on land contamination before the development started.
In May 2014 the council received complaints that the house was being constructed without compliance with the conditions attached to the consent.
The council conducted an investigation and found that the size and design elements of the dwelling did not comply with the planning permission and that the condition which required a report on land contamination to be submitted to the council before the development was started had not been carried out.
- The size and design aspects are subject to a further application which has been submitted but is yet to be determined. If the application is refused, then the council is likely to take further enforcement action
- The further work which was in contravention of the Temporary Stop Notice was the installation of a Velux roof light in the roof of a ground floor out building to the rear of the property
- A Temporary Stop Notice allows a local planning authority to halt immediately an alleged breach of planning control. It can afford the council time to investigate the alleged breach. It is an enforcement tool used only sparingly by Harrogate Borough Council. It is used by the council as an alternative to applying for an Injunction in the County/High Court. It can be quicker to issue and is less expensive than civil proceedings
- It is an offence to contravene a Temporary Stop Notice (s.171G Town & Country Planning Act 1990) and a person convicted of an s.171G offence is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £20,000 and on conviction on indictment to a fine
- The previous use of the land as a forge and agricultural yard meant that there were potential risks to future occupants of the house as well as neighbours, together with risk to controlled waters, property and ecological systems
Councillor Michael Harrison, Cabinet Member for Planning, said: The reason why the council attached the planning condition was to ensure that if contamination of the site was found, the risk could be properly understood and mitigated.
Conditions attached to planning permissions are added for good reason. Where the council attaches pre-commencement conditions, it will enforce the terms of those conditions where it considers harm will be caused by the failure to adhere to them.
Developers who blatantly flout the law when served with statutory notices under the planning regime may expect the council to intervene to their cost, as Cosy Homes (York) Limited discovered in this case.
The council warned Cosy Homes on 30 May 2014 that it could consider taking formal enforcement action if all works on site didn’t stop until the contamination report had been submitted and considered.
Despite this warning, work on site continued so a Temporary Stop Notice was issued on 2 June 2014 requiring work to cease in the absence of the report on potential risk of contamination of the site.
Work on site initially stopped, but following a heavy downpour in early June, the council agreed to a request from the builder to be allowed to carry out emergency works to the roof and surface water drainage system in order to make the house watertight and avoid unnecessary damage, but further work was carried out.
The council took a prosecution in the Harrogate Magistrates’ Court for the breach of the Temporary Stop Notice and on the 13 August 2014 Cosy Homes (York) Limited pleaded guilty to the offence of contravening a Temporary Stop, they were fined £3000 and ordered to pay the council’s costs of £657.