THE owner of a garden centre near Wargrave has been taken to court over a planning
THE owner of a garden centre near Wargrave has been taken to court over a planning dispute with Wokingham Borough Council.
Hare Hatch Sheeplands has been the subject of enforcement action since 2012 when Rob Scott was first accused of using green belt land without permission and extending a café and play area.
The council claims he has ignored the enforcement notice, so it had “no choice” but to take legal action.
Yesterday (Thursday), it went to the High Court in London to seek an order requiring Mr Scott to comply.
It came after a 10,000-signature petition calling on the council to drop the action was rejected after the authority said it could not recognise it.
There is also set to be a judicial review into the council’s refusal to grant planning permission for a petting farm and play area, while a separate appeal against the council’s decision not to grant a certificate of lawful use for the site will be held in September.
In a letter to Patrick Heather, who presented the petition at a council meeting last month, the authority said: “Under the council’s constitution, petitions which refer to ‘any matter relating to a planning decision’ cannot be accepted.”
Mr Scott said: “It is a kick in the teeth to the 10,000 individuals who signed the petition. Wokingham Borough Council seems hell bent on taking action which will close us down and is totally against the wishes of thousands of the people who elected them.
“By taking this action the council has effectively found us guilty before we have even had the opportunity for our case to be heard by a Government-appointed inspector in September.
“I can assure them I will continue the fight to save the jobs of our employees, the livelihood of the concessionaires, the financial contribution we make to the local economy and the wishes of our wonderful customers.”
Clare Lawrence, head of development management and regulatory services at the council, said: “We have given Mr Scott and the other businesses on the site ample opportunity to comply with the planning enforcement notice but they have failed to do so.
“They have continued to breach the planning regulations and expand the business despite the enforcement notice. We had no choice therefore but to apply to the High Court for an order requiring them to comply.”
Meanwhile, three candidates in this week’s borough elections indicated their support for Mr Scott after he wrote to all prospective councillors to ask for their views on the enforcement action.
Lindsay Ferris (Lib Dem), who stood in Twyford, said she wanted a “fair solution”, while David Worley, Green Party candidate for Emmbrook, said he had no objection to the business’s planning applications.
Stuart Crainer (Labour), who stood for the Remenham, Wargrave and Ruscombe seat, called for a compromise solution, adding: “Local businesses should expect support from the council.”