Planning fine of £2.5k for Cornwall couple

A couple from St Giles on the Heath near Launceston found themselves in the magistrates court this week for continuing to occupy a house without planning permission and for refusing to comply with instructions to stop living there and to remove it.
Katherine Perkins and Richard Smale originally built a large wooden house that was granted planning permission as a temporary agricultural workers dwelling in 2012. However, they only had permission to reside there for 36 months so in 2015 when they failed to successfully prove that the equine business was viable and failed to reapply for residential status, proceedings were begun. The first enforcement notice was issued in the autumn of 2015. Progress in the case was initially delayed due to the submission of several applications for planning permission by the couple for a four bedroomed house on the site, all of which were refused. Many of the applications were then appealed to the planning inspectorate, but they also concluded that the applications had no merit and upheld the decisions to refuse determined by the Council.

The couple also initially claimed that they had nowhere else to live but later conceded that they had another property that they were working on to renovate. Perkins and Smale eventually agreed to leave the property and remove the unauthorised structure but missed several agreed deadlines to do this. The Council also sought to work with the couple to facilitate their withdrawal, and whilst there was no requirement to do so, officers had withdrawn two previous summonses.

After exhausting all options, Perkins and Smale were given a final ultimatum to leave the property by 1st January 2020. However, the building was still intact and habitable until March 2020 when Officers decided to commence prosecution proceedings. Perkins and Smale pleaded guilty at Barnstaple Magistrates Court this week and were each fined £666, with £500 costs, and a £66 victim surcharge amounting to £1,232 for each defendant and making a combined total of £2,464. The building has since been dismantled and removed from the site.

Councillor Pete Watson – Lead Member for Planning at Torridge District Council said:

“We always try to navigate a measured approach to taking enforcement action but when there is a clear breach of planning policy and refusal to acknowledge this and comply, then court action will be pursued. Protecting the beautiful environment in which we are fortunate to live is a priority for this Council, and people cannot simply build anywhere they like because it suits them. The end result has been costly for this couple and should be a warning to others.”

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