Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Balfour Beatty Prosecuted

Big business is not immune from local planning enforcement. Lancaster City Council has successfully prosecuted one of the country’s largest companies for failing to comply with a planning enforcement notice during work in Halton.

On Thursday 17 January, representatives from Balfour Beatty Utilities Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching an enforecement notice when they appeared at Lancaster Magistrates Court.
The court heard that the company had used land near the village of Halton as a construction compound without the necessary planning permission.

Acting on complaints, the council investigated the case and served an enforcement notice on the company.

Although the company eventually complied with the notice, the council still decided to take action as the notice had not been complied with by the specified date.
The council also felt that a strong message needed to be sent out to the community that it is not just small builders and private individuals who will be challenged for falling foul of planning laws.

Following the guilty plea, magistrates fined the company £10,000 and ordered payment of the council’s court costs.

“The community often gets frustrated because planning enforcement action is discretionary - many offences are minor and can be resolved by negotiation," said Coun Eileen Blamire, chairman of the city council’s planning committee. “This sometimes gives the impression that the city council is reluctant to take on difficult cases.

"This prosecution should demonstrate to the public and large development companies that we will only be tolerant to a point. When significant harm occurs, and our requests to resolve the problem are ignored, we will have no hesitation in enforcing the law.“

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