Two Isle of Wight landowners must return a site near Lake’s Merrie Gardens to its original state after losing their appeals with the Planning Inspectorate.
The Isle of Wight Council says it is ‘delighted’ by the outcome, calling the work “a blatant breach of planning control [that] caused significant harm to the character of the site and the surrounding area.”
The local authority called the landowners “irresponsible”, but Louis William Tudor Smith and Mike King said County Hall’s planning enforcement notice was incomplete and said they didn’t make all the changes.
The Planning Inspectorate found Mr Smith and Mr King had carried out work on the site close to KFC, first noticed by local residents in February 2019, without planning permission.
Engineering operations, described as ‘significant’ by the Isle of Wight Council, as well as digging, waste left on the site and the creation of roads, meant concerns were raised.
The Isle of Wight Council first issued a planning enforcement notice for the site in April 2019 (which the landowners appealed), after residents noticed greenery had been cleared.
Mr Smith and Mr King argued the enforcement notice ‘was poorly drafted and incomplete’ and said it was unclear why the council was complaining and what they were required to do to put it right.
However, the Planning Inspectorate, a government body that deals with appeals, said the notice ‘clearly states the alleged breaches, reasons why the notice was issued and its remedies’.
Mr Smith and Mr King said their site was partly altered while work was underway on neighbouring land (where a Premier Inn now stands) and argued they were not responsible for all the changes.
The Isle of Wight Council accepted that but, after looking at an aerial photo of the site, the Planning Inspectorate said the so-called ‘scarring’ only affected one area.
Inspector Paul Hocking, acting on behalf of the Secretary of State, upheld the Isle of Wight Council’s enforcement notice and found Mr Smith and Mr King’s case failed on all six appeal grounds.
The land must be returned to how it was before work started there and can no longer be used for storage. By December 30 2020, it must be returned to its original levels, with all building materials removed and grass seed sown.
Cllr Paul Brading, representative for Lake South, said he was pleased with the decision as it had ‘dragged on for long enough’.
“I hope now the landowner complies with the notice and carries out the stated actions.”
Lake parish councillor Adrian Whittaker said: “It should never have gone this far. This should be a warning to other landowners — action will be taken if these notices are not obeyed. Now we must move forward.
“This site has caused a lot of distress to local residents, the wider community and wildlife over the last two years, but our determination and working together has brought this to a positive conclusion.”
“I would like to see a planning application submitted swiftly, outlining the landowner’s intentions once the strict conditions are met, as set out by the Planning Inspectorate.”