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Following a successful prosecution by Vale of White Horse District Council, Wyldecrest Parks (Management) Limited, based in Harrow, Middlesex, have been fined £100,000 and ordered to pay more than £11,000 costs after being found guilty of breaching two planning enforcement notices.
The company had failed to comply with enforcement notices ordering them to remove a mobile home and associated concrete base, service connections, brick skirt and steps, from land at Bayworth Mobile Home Park, near Abingdon, which should have only been used as a car park.
During the two day trial at Oxford Magistrates’ Court on 6 and 7 May, District Judge Rana heard how a mobile home had been sited at the Mobile Home Park without planning permission, and two enforcement notices were subsequently issued by Vale of White Horse District Council in November 2016 requiring the removal of the mobile home and associated works, with full compliance expected on or before 15 August 2018. By December 2019, the company had still failed to comply and carry out the required work.
Prior to the summons period in April 2015, unaware that the pitch was in breach of planning permission, a retired couple had purchased the unlawfully located mobile home and entered into a mobile home agreement with Wyldecrest Parks (Management) Limited to occupy the home. The company claimed that the couple’s residence prevented them from complying with the enforcement notices, as doing so would contravene the Mobile Homes Act which gives occupiers the right to ‘quiet enjoyment of the mobile home together with the pitch during the continuance of the agreement’.
In December 2019 the council became aware that the couple had left the site, but the mobile home and associated works had still not been removed. During the trial, the company claimed that the mobile home had new occupiers, however, even if this was the case, they failed to do anything to end the licence by application to the County Court, or to take any steps to end the mobile home agreement by consent with the new occupiers, and failed to tell the council that the mobile home remained occupied or by who. They were completely inactive.
The court heard that the company’s actions had been a deliberate breach of planning law; causing harm to the green belt. They had failed to respond to letters from the council or warnings regarding prosecution; they profited from site fees from this unlawful mobile home; and they wrongly put the blame on others for the situation.
In finding the company guilty of breaching the two planning enforcement notices, District Judge Rana accepted that, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, legislation had been brought in to ban evictions until further notice and as such there were limited actions available to the company from March 2020. However, this did not prevent dialogue with the new occupiers. She determined that this was a deliberate breach by the company who had tested the patience of the local authority, laid the blame at others and had failed to work with the Vale of White Horse District Council.
Suzanne Malcolm, Acting Deputy Chief Executive – Place, at Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “It’s very important that site owners comply with planning permission and only locate mobile homes on land where they have been granted permission. Carrying out unlawful work like this can risk damaging the local area and puts occupiers at a significant risk of losing their home. I’m therefore very pleased that the District Judge agreed that that this had been a serious breach and therefore issued a substantial fine and costs.”