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In the news:- Basildon Council leader provides update on unlawful development proceedings

Basildon Council leader provides update on unlawful development proceedings
24 March 2017

The leader of Basildon Council has outlined the numerous legal steps the authority is taking to tackle unlawful development.

At a full council meeting last night (Thursday, 23 March), Cllr Phil Turner addressed fellow members to provide an overview of current enforcement proceedings.

Cllr Turner emphasised that the council is dealing with planning breaches on multiple sites in the Hovefields area of Wickford, with various plots of land subject to different ownership and circumstances.

He said: “The only way we can ensure the plots of land in question at Hovefields, which are in the green belt, are restored to their proper state is by following the letter of the law and gathering as much evidence as we can to take to court.

“Regrettably we are dealing here with people who are prepared to defy a High Court Order, despite the potential consequences to themselves.

“It must be recognised that merely witnessing that further development works have occurred is not enough to commence contempt proceedings, particularly where landowners and occupiers have changed.

“For instance, new occupiers discovered on site have to be personally served with copies of an injunction for it to be effective against them.

"We have to prove to the court who is responsible and identification evidence can be extremely difficult to gather in these circumstances.”

The council has obtained a High Court hearing date for committal proceedings for the alleged breach of the injunction banning further development at Silva Lodge Kennels, in Hovefields Avenue.

The hearing is listed for Wednesday, 5 April.

Meanwhile, the authority is continuing investigations and evidence gathering activity at other sites in the area.

Cllr Turner added: “I fully understand that residents want quick remedies and I am as frustrated as anyone that the council cannot speed up this process.

“It is clear to me that the law, in its current form, does not provide councils with sufficient powers to solve these problems.

“We will continue to lobby central government, calling for local authorities to be granted emergency powers to take action in situations such has been experienced at Hovefields and for more effective measures to speed up the process for dealing with such unauthorised activities.”