Council enforcement sees demolition of illegal building

Long-awaited demolition work to pull down a large building, built without planning permission in the green belt nearly ten years ago, gets under way today (Monday Feb 19), in an unprecedented enforcement action by Bath and North East Somerset Council’s planning team.

The eyesore two-storey building at Folly Lane, Stowey, was built in 2008 without planning permission sparking numerous complaints.

Following an investigation by the council, in 2008 the land owner and the company responsible (AJP Growers) were served an enforcement notice requiring the demolition of the building and the restoration of the land.

The notice was appealed but the appeal was dismissed in 2009 giving the landowner until 2010 to comply with the enforcement notice.

However the owner repeatedly failed to comply with the notice despite numerous attempts to regularise the development and so was prosecuted by Bath & North East Somerset Council for non-compliance with the notice.

A successful prosecution in July 2016 saw the owner of the land and AJP Growers convicted of an offence under S.179 of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1990.

Following the prosecution councillors took the rare step under S.178 of the Act to agree direct action to have the building demolished in order to ensure compliance with the notice. Works were due to commence in 2017 however bats were found in the building, so the council had to have an ecologist survey the site and obtain a licence from Natural England to allow its lawful demolition.

Councillor Bob Goodman (Conservative Coombe Down), cabinet member for Development and Neighbourhoods, said; “As far as I am aware, the council has never taken enforcement action this far. I am disappointed that the owners have let it get to this point. However we have pursued this case and at long last this illegal building, which is a real eyesore, will be demolished and the land put back as it should have been done almost ten years ago.

“Nationally there are only a handful of these interventions each year mainly because people comply with Enforcement Notices before it gets to this stage, however the public must have confidence in Bath & North East Somerset Council as a planning authority that we have the teeth to follow through with the most extreme form of enforcement available to us when necessary.”

Demolition works pursuant to S.178 and in line with council’s resolution are due to start on site today, Monday February 19th. All costs associated with the demolition will be recoverable against the land.