Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Men ordered to fill in 40m trench dug without permission

A PAIR of homeowners from Peppard have been told to fill in a trench dug without permission.

Tim and Paul Arnold, of Colmore Lane, have lost an appeal against an enforcement notice issued by South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, a year ago.

The council said they had breached planning rules by carrying out “engineering operations for the excavation of a large trench” without permission.

The 40m trench, which was dug in 2013, has two shallow ramps at each end.

In their appeal statement, the Arnolds said the amount of soil they had moved and the planning harm caused by the trench were insufficient to warrant enforcement action and the work did not amount to an “engineering operation”.

The earth was not removed from the site and the work was not carried out by contractors.

The Arnolds requested a lawful development certificate be issued for the trench.

They said: “I respectfully submit that the circumstances of this case are exceptional. As a result of my dealings with my local planning authority I have, I am afraid, lost all confidence in their ability to come to any fair decision.”

Planning inspector Susan Wraith rejected the appeal, saying she considered the trench to be a type of development. She said: “The appellants had in mind that they wanted a circular lawn surrounded by flowering bushes.

“While there was no plan on paper there was a preconceived idea about the appearance, position and size of the trench and how the works would be carried out.

“To that extent, there was an element of pre-planning. There were no calculations or engineering methods used to devise the shape of the trench.

“Nevertheless, its shape was intentionally ‘formed’, albeit by using simple geometry and a piece of string. When drawing all these matters together I consider, on balance, that the works amounted to ‘engineering operations’ rather than ‘other operations’ because they involved an element of pre-planning and formation.

“Having found that the works amount to ‘development’, I know of no reason why this development would not then require planning permission. In the absence of permission, I conclude that the works amount to a breach of planning control.”

Ms Wraith gave the applicants four months to comply with the enforcement action.

She said: “The requirements of the notice are... infill the trench with the excavated soil plus additional topsoil if required, to a level commensurate with the natural ground level of the land. Reseed with grass the areas affected by the works.”

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