Update January 28
Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) went back to the High Court on 28 January 2019 where there was a contested hearing by the defendants, Mr Dean Jules and Mrs Candice Jules, both of White Heart Grove, Land at The Coombes, Coombes Lane, Barkham, regarding the continuation of the injunction order dated 14 December 2018 (see below in background section). The judge agreed with WBC that an injunction should remain on the land but also added that Mr and Mrs Jules were reckless in completing the wooden structure and moving into it in breach of the terms of the injunction. A new order, dated 28 January 2019, was made in which it was also ordered that they should not reside at the site after 5 April 2019. They were also ordered to pay the Council’s full costs of the proceedings.
The defendants advised the court that they were going to appeal against the planning enforcement notice, dated 23 January 2019, served on them
Update January 23
Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) has taken further action to protect the Coombes woodland from unauthorised development.
On Wednesday January 23, WBC removed ‘permitted development’ rights on land at the woodland through an Article 4 Direction Order. The effect of this order is that the planning consent will now be required for:
The erection, construction, maintenance, improvement or alteration of a gate, fence, wall or other means of enclosure on the site and for;
any building operation consisting of the provision on land of buildings, moveable structures, works, plant or machinery required temporarily in connection with and for the duration of operations being or to be carried out on, in, under or over that land or on land adjoining that land
Before this order, these activities could have taken place under the landowners ‘permitted development’ rights without them having to apply for permission.
In addition, WBC has served both a Stop Notice and an Enforcement Notice on Mr Dean Jules and Mrs Candice Jules, both of White Heart Grove, Land at The Coombes, Coombes Lane, Barkham (‘the land’).
The Enforcement Notice relates to an unauthorised timber building that has been built on ‘the land’ and requires Mr and Mrs Jules to:
Cease the use of the building as a dwelling.
Remove the building, including foundation, from ‘the land’.
Remove the resultant materials from carrying out step (ii) from ‘the land’.
Remove the residential paraphernalia associated with the residential use from ‘the land’.
The Stop Notice relates to any further unauthorised construction and storage of building materials on ‘the land’ ancillary to the development contained within the Enforcement Notice and requires that Mr and Mrs Jules:
Cease storage of building materials and do not undertake any further construction works specified in the notice.
The injunctive proceedings will be progressed at a hearing in the High Court on 28 January 2019.
Land at The Coombes, Coombes Lane, Barkham has been marketed in plots at auction and on a property website last year. The advertising has implied the land has the potential for development.
It is understood that at least eight plots have been sold and Wokingham Borough Council has been contacted by several of the landowners and members of public to enquire about potential development, forestry work and a Public Rights of Way issue.
One of the plots was bought by Mr and Mrs Jules who began carrying out work that Wokingham Borough Council believes to be unauthorised on the site in November 2018. The Council requested them to stop and obtained a High Court Injunction at the Queen’s Bench Division of the Royal Courts of Justice in London on 14 December that stipulated they must not:
- Bring onto the site any building materials
- Store any building materials on the site
- Carry out any building works on the site
- Bring any mobile home or caravan onto the site
- Carry out any engineering operation (including but not limited to the creation of a track) on the site
- Carry out any works to the trees protected by TPO 371/1988 without the written permission of the Council or the Forestry commission
It should be noted that the court order remains in force and is punishable by imprisonment or fine if breached.
Legal position of land:
The land concerned is Protected Woodland (TPO 371/1988) and Local Wildlife Site. The land can only be lawfully used for forestry uses. The TPO has recently been extended to cover all trees at the site.
In order to carry out works to trees on the land, owners must either apply to the Council or to the Forestry Commission. In both cases, the consent would only be for agreed works to trees – not development.
Current position: Public Rights of Way issue
Another of the plot owners, has been in contact with the Council over a Public Right of Way. The owner believes the original definitive line of the path should be approximately three metres to the east of the current position of the path and is seeking to re-establish this route and then install close boarded fence on his side so that he can exercise his dog. A Wokingham Borough Council officer visited the site on 19 December and advised that he would review the maps and evidence. The owner was advised to carry out no work on the path until the issue has been resolved.
Please note that Wokingham Borough Council elected ward members for the area (Cllr Gary Cowan and Cllr John Kaiser) are working closely and proactively with Council planning and tree officers and the parish council on this issue. Further updates will be provided as appropriate.