Pair fined after 5-year battle over breach of planning consent at controversial Tilsworth caravan site

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Former owners jointly fined £1,600, ordered to pay £1,140 costs and victim surcharge of £160

The former owners of a plot of land in Tilsworth have been fined for failing to comply with Central Bedfordshire Council’s planning enforcement notice.

Anthony Fitzharris and Patrick Fitzharris were visited by council officers after reports land at Kingswood Nursery was not being operated and developed according to the planning consent.

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The land at Kingswood Nursery, already a gipsy site, was subject to a partially retrospective application for five static and five touring caravans submitted to Central Beds Council five years ago.

Enforcement notices were issued in respect of a  partly retrospective planning application for the land at TilsworthEnforcement notices were issued in respect of a  partly retrospective planning application for the land at Tilsworth
Enforcement notices were issued in respect of a partly retrospective planning application for the land at Tilsworth

Planning enforcement notices were served in September 2018 and, following a lengthy process the appeal against the enforcement notices was dismissed with the Planning Inspector extending the compliance period of the enforcement notice.

The enforcement notice required the removal of the excess hardstanding and the additional mobile homes from the site in Dunstable Road.

The appeals are also linked to the siting of a portable building, change of use from paddock land and expanding an area of hardstanding.

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As neither defendant complied with the enforcement notice within the required time period and initially, failed to attend court on three occasions, a warrant was issued for their arrest.

The case was finally heard at Luton Magistrates Court on June 13, and despite the fact the enforcement notice has now been complied with, the two defendants entered a guilty plea and were jointly fined £1,600, ordered to pay costs of £1,140 and a victim surcharge of £160.

Cllr Simon Ford, Executive Member for Executive Member for Highways and Waste, said: “This is an example of a very lengthy planning enforcement process, but when necessary and proportionate we will use our planning enforcement powers to pursue those who work outside our planning rules, no matter how long it takes, we will bring them to justice.

“We take planning enforcement extremely seriously and will ensure community concerns about unauthorised developments are heard, listened to and when possible, action taken. Planning rules are in place for everyone’s benefit.”

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An application for caravans to be put on the land for residential purposes, as one gipsy pitch, was first submitted in April 2012. The plans were refused by the council, but went to appeal.

This was granted in August 2015 for “the use of land as a gipsy site comprising one pitch with two caravans”.

However partial retrospective plans over expansion of the travellers' site at Kingswood Nursery have angered residents in the past and led to protests over concerns in relation to ‘highways issues, disturbances and the overbearing nature of the site in such a tiny village’.

> The site is approximately 350 metres from the village on the north western side of Dunstable Road leading to the A5. The site is roughly L shaped and adjacent to the main road.

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The site is surrounded by open land to the east. To the south west the site is bounded by the Evergreens Site which has six authorised pitches. Tilsworth Golf course is located to the north of the site.