£20,000 bill for man in row over caravan

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A landowner who failed to obey an enforcement notice served on him by Rugby Borough Council to remove a static caravan has been landed with a bill of more than £20,000.

Resham Maan had denied failing to comply with an enforcement notice requiring him to remove the caravan from land he owned at Broadwell Turn in Broadwell.

And it is believed he is now considering an appeal after a jury at Coventry Crown Court found him guilty by a unanimous verdict.

Maan, 64, of Brunton Close, Binley, Coventry, was fined £10,000 which he was ordered to pay within three months or face three months in prison in default.

Judge Phillip Gregory also ordered Maan, who represented himself, to pay £10,000 towards the council’s prosecution costs and a £120 statutory surcharge.

During his trial the jury heard that after Maan put the static caravan onto the agricultural land he was advised that he needed to apply for planning permission.

He failed to make such an application, and eventually he was served with an enforcement notice by the council.

And when he still failed to remove the caravan and other non-agricultural items, he was charged with failing to comply with the notice, which had been issued by the council under the Town and Country Planning Act.

The prosecutor outlined that in May 2012 the council had received a complaint about a caravan on land at Broadwell Turn.

Council planning officer Barry Rose made a site visit and found a large static caravan on the land, so took photos of it.

“It was what some people might call a mobile home. It can’t be towed on the road in the way you see people towing at this time of year,” the jury was told.

Maan was not there, so Mr Rose said he left his card with a neighbour to pass to Maan who subsequently called the council on June 6 and spoke to Christine Davies.

He confirmed he was the owner of the land, and claimed the caravan was required as a temporary dwelling to support a new farming venture.

Maan was told he had to apply for retrospective planning permission, with plans of the site and an explanation of why existing housing stock in the area would not meet his needs, but was advised it was unlikely the application would be successful.

Mrs Davies sent the relevant forms to Maan, and also sent him an email explaining that the application would have to be submitted within 28 days.

When the council had heard nothing by July 7, a reminder was sent to him and he was told that unless an application was received by the following Friday, there would be no alternative but to issue an enforcement notice.

Again nothing happened, so after giving him even more time, the enforcement notice was issued on September 19, requiring Maan to remove the caravan within 28 days unless an appeal was lodged.

But rather than comply or lodge an appeal, on October 11 Maan simply sent the notice back to the local authority with the words “null and void” scrawled across it.

He was sent another copy, and a further e-mail was sent to him explaining his options to either move the caravan or lodge an appeal – but “he did neither of those things”.

The council’s barrister said: “The prosecution say this man steadfastly refused to remove the van off the site.

“Under section 179 of the Act it is a defence for a person to show he did everything he could be expected to do to seek compliance. But it will become obvious that not only did he not do everything he could to comply, he did nothing.”

There was a further statutory defence if a person was not aware of the existence of the notice.

“But it was served on him, and he was perfectly well aware of the notice – because he sent it back to the local authority with his comment on it,” added the barrister.