Thomas William Gibbs of Willow Farm, Stoke Abbott, Beaminster was also ordered to pay the full amount of the council’s prosecution costs of £1,480. In addition a victim surcharge of £100 was ordered to be paid. The fines have to be paid within 28 days of the sentence being passed.
Gibbs, aged 69, pleaded guilty at Weymouth Magistrates Court to an offence contrary to Section 179 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.
He pleaded guilty on 5 August 2019 however sentencing took place on 13 January 2020, after being adjourned twice, to enable him to comply with the enforcement notice.
Notice was first served as far back as April 2008 after Mr Gibbs had built an unauthorised dwelling at Willow Farm in a protected area of countryside that falls within the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
The enforcement notice required Gibbs to cease
the residential use of the land and to demolish and remove the structure. He appealed, which resulted in temporary permission for the dwelling being granted on the condition it would be removed by February 2012.
Sometime before February 2012, Gibbs then went on to build a further unauthorised barn-like structure which was deemed harmful to the scenic beauty of the AONB. He applied for planning permission to retain the dwelling and barn, but this was refused in September 2012.
A second enforcement notice was issued requiring residential use on the land to cease and the demolition and removal of the unauthorised buildings by June 2014.
A further appeal by Mr Gibbs was rejected and the second notice came back into effect requiring to him to comply by 23 January 2015. He did not comply. A follow-up investigation by planning enforcement officers in 2017 found that the dwelling continued to be occupied. Further inspections took place in 2018 and 2019, by which time the offending had continued for over four years.
Following a court summons in April 2019 significant steps were taken by Mr Gibbs to comply with the enforcement notice. However, demolition of the dwelling has yet to take place because a bat roost had become established in the roof space of the building.
A licence has been granted by Natural England to allow the demolition to take place in a way that ensures the protection of the bats. This work is expected to take place in the spring.
Mr Gibbs was told by the sentencing court that he could be prosecuted by Dorset Council again if he did not demolish the building as promised.
Dorset Council Cabinet member for Planning, Cllr David Walsh said, “I would like thank our officers for bringing this long running case to a successful conclusion. We have a duty to protect land which is part of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
“This case in particular shows how we use court proceedings as a last resort and where possible we will try to work with landowners to ensure planning law is respected and complied with.
“That said, we will not allow the integrity of the planning system to be undermined. We will take appropriate action to ensure that Mr Gibbs does not allow the demolition of the building to drift and delay.”
Please share post:
Follow us on