Since the previous enforcement notice relating to Hare Hatch Sheeplands, Wokingham Borough Council officers have undertaken several site visits, and to date, the garden centre has failed to comply with the enforcement.
The borough council was made aware that the garden centre had carried out further breaches of planning control and the most recent site visit by council officers found that these additional breaches include the erection of sheds and summerhouses, the installation of hot tubs, and the erection of a marquee – all relating to new businesses on site, as well as unauthorised advertisements.
Regarding planning applications 152747 and 152748, both of these applications relate to unauthorised development required to be removed by the notice. While the council has always stated that it would work with the garden centre to negotiate an acceptable proposal, this has always been on the basis that the site should be looked at comprehensively.
The applications submitted related to land to the rear of the site and a small proportion of the site currently used for retail. There was no indication in the application as to the access arrangements, parking provision or any relationship to the rest of the site.
The council has consistently requested that the owner of the garden centres complies with the enforcement notice and has written to him several times asking for a timetable for compliance but he has not provided one. He has also failed to attend interviews despite several requests.
The council’s view is that the owner has failed to make any attempt to comply with the planning regulations and that the planning applications and planning appeal are an attempt to avoid the planning regulations and delay compliance with the notice. Failure to comply with an enforcement notice is a criminal offence.
Unfortunately, the council considers that the time has come to take the next step towards compliance with the planning regulations, this involves further legal action through the courts which is due to be confirmed shortly.
During the last Meeting of the Council a petition was submitted regarding Hare Hatch Sheeplands. Unfortunately, the petition refers to an enforcement notice that has been deemed to constitute a ‘planning decision’. Under the council’s constitution, petitions which refer to ‘any matter relating to a planning decision’ cannot be accepted.
Although it cannot be formally accepted, the executive member for planning and highways, the chairman of the planning committee and I would be happy to meet the lead petitioner to discuss the issues raised.