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Council secures continuation of High Court interim injunction over unauthorized development

West Berkshire Council last month won a continuation of an interim injunction preventing any further unauthorised development at the Lawrences Lane site in Thatcham.

It had earlier warned nearby residents not to try to gather evidence of misuse of the site by flying drones over it.

The injunction stated that no residential occupation will be permitted, beyond the five plots agreed in an earlier order, and that no further portable structures can be brought onto the land in breach of planning control.

It also forbids bringing hardcore onto the land and any works that breach planning controls.

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Defendants using the land must vacate it by 8 April 2022, if they have failed to submit an appeal against the refusal of their planning application by 8 February 2022.  

They must also cease residential use and remove their caravans and “residential paraphernalia” within two months of the final determination of an appeal regarding their planning application.

The council said the new order by Margaret Obi - sitting as a judge of the High Court - was supported by a penal notice, which meant any breach could amount to contempt of court, punishable by a fine, imprisonment or the seizure of assets.

Richard Somner, West Berkshire's executive member for planning, transport and countryside, said: “Following on from the previous injunction set in place since the summer, this order is the next big step to ensure that no further unauthorised planning development will take place on the land at Lawrences Lane.”

Cllr Somner said the council had limited the extent and impact of the unauthorised development and would continue to monitor activity at the site.

At the time of the original hearing the council warned local residents not to fly drones over the site in apparent bids to gain evidence of unlawful development.

It said in a statement last September: “Thames Valley Police are also investigating the use of drones being flown over the site, which is private property.

“We are advising that residents stop the use of drones over area as the evidence can't be used in court.”

Mark Smulian

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