A borough council in Kent has secured an interim High Court injunction to prevent further serious harm to a site that is located within an Area of Outstanding National Beauty, a designated Ancient Woodland and covered by a Tree Preservation Order.
Maidstone Borough Council said it decided to take legal action against the landowner Mr Beck of Bell Lane, Boxley after he had ignored requirements of an enforcement notice to stop unlawful waste disposal and restore the land.
The enforcement notice required that the land should not be used for residential purposes, stationing of caravans, the storage of motor vehicle/vehicle parts, storage of building materials and waste, highways equipment and domestic items and should be removed from the land.
However, the landowner continued to carry on and significantly expanded the unlawful site, the council said.
The interim injunction applies to the owner of the site based on Bell Lane (Mr Beck), a further resident as well as “persons unknown” after several joint visits made it clear to the multi-agency group led by Maidstone, that he had continued to ignore previous requirements of the enforcement notice.
The council said officers from its Planning Enforcement, Community Protection and Waste Crime Teams, the Environment Agency, Kent Fire and Rescue Service and Kent Police visited the site on several occasions which culminated in a decision being taken by the council to seek the interim injunction and to eventually seek compliance with the terms of the enforcement notice.
Cllr Bob Hinder, Ward Councillor for Boxley, said the interim injunction had been a long time coming and was “progress in the right direction”.
He said the site was highly protected and the residents of Boxley would be relieved to know that steps had been taken to get the activities stopped.
The council added that it took the action to prevent further serious harm to the designated landscape with the outcomes taking into account the council’s Strategic Plan, Local Enforcement Plan and Local Plan 2017 which aims to protect, and where possible enhance the green spaces in the borough, conserve and enhance the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and protect irreplaceable habit such as Ancient Woodlands.
James Bailey, the local authority’s Planning and Development Manager added: “Maidstone Borough Council sought this injunction to prevent further landscape harm to the site which could not go on any longer. This result is a great example of MBC working with other agencies and this successful action will now make any breach of the terms of the injunction by an persons’ named within it may be held to be in contempt of court and imprisoned or fined, or their assets may be seized.”
Maidstone said any breaches of the injunction would be robustly investigated and if necessary, further High Court action would be pursued.