Our officers went down to the site on the same day and issued a stop notice to prevent any further work from taking place. On Saturday 20th April we instructed a barrister to obtain a high court mandatory injunction because the unauthorised work had not stopped.
The injunction was granted and served on site the same day. Unfortunately, the defendants have not complied with the terms of the injunction. The council is doing everything it can, through the correct legal procedures, to try and stop unauthorised works taking place. We will continue work to get the situation resolved
Has the planning application been decided?
Yes, the planning application has been decided and the decision was to refuse planning permission for the change of use of land to 10 Gypsy/Traveller pitches, accommodating the siting of 10 mobiles homes and stationing of 10 touring caravans and 10 utility buildings. Formation of access road and hardstandings at land off Chapel Lane, Little Hadham.
For more information, please see the decision notice on our planning portal.
What does the injunction mean?
The purpose of the injunction is to cease the unauthorised development and restore the site.
Why can't the police arrest everyone on site for breach of the injunction?
The police cannot do this because it is a civil matter that is being dealt with by the council. Council officers have worked over the bank holiday weekend to try and deal with this as quickly as possible. The police have been working with the council to ensure the safety of everyone affected.
Why can't the council remove them?
The council is not able to remove anyone from private land. What the council can do, and is doing, is take action against the unauthorised development. Officers are working in earnest with our legal advisors to collect all of the necessary evidence for the court. While residents may be frustrated that this seems to be a slow process, the risk of not following the legal procedure to the letter could jeopardise the case.
I have contacted the police and they are not helping?
This is a civil matter so the police are not able to help with the unauthorised development.
What if I witness or am affected by a crime?
If you witness or are a victim of a crime, you should report this to the local police in the usual way using 999 if it is an emergency or 101 in all other circumstances. It is also possible to report crime online via the police website
When will the unauthorised works stop and the site be restored?
We cannot provide a specific date at this stage but we acted as soon as we were made aware of the illegal works taking place and will continue to work hard to get this resolved as quickly as we can. Realistically this situation is not going to be resolved quickly, although are doing everything we can within the legal avenues available to us.
What about the work that has already taken place?
The terms of the injunction clearly state that the site should be returned to its previous condition.
What did the injunction actually say?
It forbids the defendants from using any part of the land for the siting of caravans/mobile homes and/or using the Land for residential development, including the occupation of caravans/mobile homes for residential purposes, storage of vehicles, caravans and residential paraphernalia. It also forbids them from undertaking any development on the Land, as defined in section 55 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, without the express grant of planning. This includes the laying of hardcore and creation of hard standing and/or access roads. Further, the injunction requires that the defendants shall remove the hardcore or hard standing created in breach of planning control and restore the land within 7 days of the date of the injunction, and remove all caravans/mobiles homes sited on the Land for residential purposes upon service of the injunction.
Now you have a planning application, does this mean the injunction no longer stands?
No, it doesn't. The two things are separate and while our priority is to get the injunction enforced in the High Court we will also process the planning application in the usual way. There is complex case law around processing planning applications on land which is the subject of an injunction, and we have taken legal advice on the route to follow in this instance.
Why hasn't the council exercised its power under s.70C Town Country Planning Act 1990 and declined to determine the planning application?
The council do not have the right to use this power in these circumstances. There is no pre-existing enforcement notice (a temporary stop notice is not at enforcement notice) nor is there any planning history of previous refusals of permission on this site. Exercising such a power in these circumstances would be unlawful and would be subject to judicial review. Therefore, the Council were obliged to accept and determine any application for permission.
Why didn't the Council issue an enforcement notice following the temporary stop notice?
It was not appropriate in these circumstances. Given the immediate nature of the works that took place over the bank holiday weekend and the rate at which they were undertaken, the Council issued a temporary stop notice, when this wasn't complied with an emergency high court injunction was sought and granted.
How do I report environmental health issues such as noise?
Concerns over nuisance such as noise pollution, fumes or smoke the smell of gas can be reported to the council by completing the report environmental pollution form on our website.
How do I report concerns about water pollution?
Potential incidents such as this should be notified to the Environment Agency through their Incident Hotline on 0800 80 70 60 in the first instance. The Environment Agency will assess the risk, and as the regulatory authority for environmental protection they have powers to take enforcement action as required. For more information, please visit the gov.uk website
Affinity Water, as the public water supply company for this area, will be informed of potential pollution incidents by the Environment Agency. In the case of potential pollution incidents, water quality monitoring can be increased and contingencies identified in case of a breakthrough of pollutants. The earlier the notification to the Environment Agency, the sooner the investigation and measures can take place.
What is the latest update on the unauthorised development?
The committal hearing for the breach of the injunction, together with the application to vary the terms of the Injunction by the Defendants, was heard at the High Court on 25 July before His Honour Judge Graham Wood (sitting as a Judge of the High Court). The Judge accepted the admission of the breaches by the Defendants, and the arguments then moved on to whether the Defendants should succeed in their application to vary/discharge the terms of the Injunction until after the planning appeal has been determined. The Defendants are seeking to appeal the decision of the council to refuse their application for planning permission.
The council robustly defended its position but the Judge was not able to give a decision on the day and has reserved judgement indicating that he will provide an outline decision, hopefully in early August. Judgement will then be formally handed down sometime WC 23rd September but a date has not been fixed yet as the courts will soon close for the summer recess.
The council has put forward a strong case thanks to the hard work and dedication of officers involved and awaits the decision of the Judge.
What is happening with the appeal against the decision to refuse planning permission?
The council has received confirmation from the Planning Inspectorate that they have received an appeal in respect of land off Chapel Lane, Little Hadham 3/19/0893/FUL. The procedure for this appeal will likely be in the form of a Public Inquiry with a duration or 3-4 days.