Biggest-ever fine for planning snub

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A DONCASTER man has been handed fines and costs totalling more than a quarter of a million pounds for ‘flagrant’ breaches of planning law, as well as a threat of prison if he does not pay.

Nigel Smith, 57, of Manor Farm in Moss Road, Moss, was convicted after pleading guilty to the offence of breaching an enforcement notice issued by Doncaster Council on five occasions in late 2011 and 2012.

Manor Farm is a green field site within a countryside location. In 2009 Smith laid hard court to form a compound and brought in a residential caravan.

He added portable offices for businesses linked to the site and a number of shipping storage containers. As Smith had no planning permission for any of this, the use of the land for this was illegal

In response to Smith’s actions the council served an enforcement notice requiring that he cease these activities.

Smith appealed the notice but it was upheld in the council’s favour. When Smith failed to comply with the notice, Doncaster Council took him to court in November 2011 for failing to comply with the notice on two occasions.

He was fined £2,000.

Despite being fined, Smith carried on his operations at Manor Farm in continued contravention of the enforcement notice.

On Monday Smith was sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court. He was convicted of breaching the enforcement notice on five occasions and Recorder Michael Hubbard QC fined him a quarter of a million pounds or face a prison sentence of two years if this sum is not paid within 30 days.

Smith was also ordered to pay Doncaster Council’s costs of £13,575.35 in full.

Handing out the biggest planning fine in Doncaster within living memory, and one of the biggest ever in the UK, the judge said it was “difficult to imagine such a flagrant breach in defiance of the enforcement notices.”

Peter Davies, Mayor of Doncaster, said: “I am pleased with this result.

“It sends a clear message that Doncaster Council will not tolerate people illegally occupying land and using it for unlawful and inappropriate purposes.

“We will always seek to prosecute in these cases.”