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Court hands landowner suspended prison sentence and £5k fine for ignoring planning notices

A landowner in Essex has been given a 3-month suspended prison sentence and a £5,000 fine for continuing to breach High Court injunctions dating back to September 2021.

Braintree District Council said that in August 2021 it was alerted to unlawful works taking place on a section of land along Sudbury Road in Castle Hedingham.

It obtained a High Court injunction to prevent further works from taking place, granted in September and October 2021.

Braintree said: “The works, undertaken without planning consent, included the construction of a 2.5 metre fencing which closed off the area of land from view, and the installation of water and electricity supplies. An injunction was obtained to prevent any further works whilst reversing some the works which had already taken place.

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“During compliance checks at the site, planning enforcement officers discovered that the landowner continued with the works involving several lorry loads of aggregate and topsoil being delivered and spread across the site with a digger. As a result, the council instigated prosecution proceedings at London’s High Court.”

At a hearing this week (29 March), the defendant pleaded guilty to failing to comply with the injunction and was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months and ordered to pay a £5,000 fine along with the council’s costs.

A further order was given requiring the landowner to carry out a contamination survey on imported aggregate/topsoil at the site.

Cllr Gabrielle Spray, Cabinet Member for Planning and Infrastructure at Braintree District Council, said: “I am very pleased to see the court issue a large fine and prison sentence in this long-running case.

“This case is an important reminder to others who may be tempted to cut planning corners that we will not tolerate flagrant breaches of the planning laws and will continue to take robust action to protect land in our district from unauthorised development.”

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