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Defiance of Planning Control Can Lead to Jail

caravanA landowner who failed to clear his agricultural holding of inappropriate development despite receiving a £250,000 fine for his repeated breaches of planning control has been given a suspended prison sentence for his contempt of court. The man was given 28 days in order to achieve full compliance or face activation of the jail term.

The man had been locked in dispute with Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council since 2009 when caravans and portable office cabins first appeared on his land. He was subsequently fined £250,000 following criminal proceedings in respect of his failure to comply with an enforcement notice and was issued with a court order requiring that he restore the site to its former condition by a particular date.

That deadline passed without compliance and the council responded by seeking his committal to prison. The High Court found him in contempt and handed him a 12-month jail term, suspended for a month on condition that caravans, trailers and other items, including hard core, are removed from the site within that period.

Judge Richard Seymour QC warned the landowner: “You should be under no misapprehension. If so much as one granule of hard core remains on the site more than four weeks from today, you will go to prison for 12 months.”