Archive for December, 2015

Prism and their client are celebrating after winning an appeal against an enforcement notice issued by Stockton Borough Council, which tried to reverse works our client had carried out to stabilise his garden next to the River Tees. Our client had laid out a series of terraces in his garden area that sloped down to the River Tees. A number of other residents had carried out similar works in their garden area over the years but for some strange reason, our client’s activities attracted the attention of the Council who served an enforcement notice on him, requiring removal and reversal of the stabilisation works. On our client’s behalf, we had argued that the works were in keeping with the character of the area and didn’t contravene the Council’s policies. We argued the need for consistency in decision making and that our client should not be treated differently to other local residents whose works had gone unchallenged. In allowing the appeal, the Inspector advised: “My conclusion on this issue is that the development does not materially harm either the character or the appearance of the surrounding area, and does not conflict with relevant Council policies or The Framework.” The decision highlights several points. Firstly, as homeowners, the planning system does not give an unfettered right to carry out large scale landscaping schemes. Anyone considering using a digger in their garden should consider carefully whether the works proposed will require the benefit of planning permission. The legal position can be quite confusing and it is usually better to seek expert advice from specialists such as Prism, rather than run the risk of action from the Council. As a result of this decision, Councils do however have to think very carefully before rushing ahead with enforcement actions that try to dictate how an individual can layout and use their private garden area. Clearly opposition from nearby residents, on its own, is not going to be a sound barometer against whether to take action or not. Prism are delighted to have won the case and would be pleased to advise anyone else considering a similar situation. A separate application for an award of costs is still being considered by the Planning Inspectorate and a decision on this is expected shortly.