North Devon land owner facing Crown Court for planning offences

Barnstaple magistrates courtBarnstaple magistrates court

Posted on: 14 August 2019

A North Devon landowner is set to attend Exeter Crown Court following a guilty plea against charges for planning offences in Combe Martin.

Mr Geoffrey Hutchings of Westleigh Farm, Combe Martin attended Barnstaple Magistrates Court on Monday (12 August 2019) for failing to comply with an enforcement notice issued by North Devon Council in 2009. Mr Hutchings pleaded guilty to breaching the enforcement notice which stated the siting, residential occupation and storage of mobile homes and touring caravans not being used for the authorised agricultural use of the land must be stopped as well as there removal from the site.

Following the plea, the case now been committed to Exeter Crown Court for a confiscation order to be considered under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. The enforcement notice did not apply to three caravans which had been the subject of certificates of lawful development, and to four other caravans where the occupants were permitted to occupy the caravans following an appeal.

Mr Hutchings also pleaded guilty to failing to comply with a breach of condition notice for living in holiday accommodation on site which was also sent to the Crown Court to consider.

Leader of North Devon Council, Councillor David Worden, says: “Following the planning process is really important to make sure development within our district is carried out appropriately. Residential development and mobile homes in this isolated, unsustainable, countryside location is simply not appropriate. Consequently when this was brought to our attention and because it’s in the public interest, action was needed to be taken.¬† Our officers will always try to resolve the issue and cooperate with people first to find the right situation without taking enforcement action. However in this case, ten years is quite enough time to comply with the actions required in the enforcement notice so a trial at court was the only option left.”

The council offers a pre-application advice service providing anybody considering development within the North Devon district with the opportunity to discuss their plans with a planning officer before submitting a planning application. Information about the service is available on the planning pages of the council website.

Information about planning enforcement, including how to report a concern, the enforcement process in North Devon and notices issued within the North Devon district, is also available on the website.

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Posted in: Planning