I am writing in response to the statement made on behalf of Mr Bailey in your article last week concerning the alleged unlawful use of a shed, owned by Mr Bailey, the Rudgwick district and parish councillor, but only accessed by crossing a private driveway owned by my clients, Mr and Mrs Oliver Ward. In the normal course of events I would not expect to become involved in a public debate in respect of a matter concerning one of my clients but, as Mr Bailey’s spokesman has chosen to specifically refer to me by name, I feel obliged to put the record straight:
Mr Bailey’s representative fails to mention the fact that in 2000 Mr Bailey wished to extend his workshop and warehouse on other land adjoining Highcroft Drive and at that time faced considerable opposition from property owners in Highcroft Drive. At that time there were negotiations with Mr Bailey’s representatives in which I was involved and Mr Bailey expressly agreed that a planning condition should be imposed upon the same building which is now the subject of the current dispute. That planning condition (RW/72/00) confirmed that the building should only be used for its existing lawful use (ie storage purposes) and only as an integral part of the business of Rudgwick Metals Limited. In other words the use of the shed is personal to Mr Bailey and his business of Rudgwick Metals.
It is not surprising therefore that my clients, Mr and Mrs Ward, and other residents of Highcroft Drive are incensed that, as their district and parish councillor, Mr Bailey now appears to have ignored the provisions of the Certificate of Lawful Use and the condition that he expressly agreed in 2000 by coming to an arrangement with a third party (who is also a parish councillor) to operate a car repair business from the shed.
The use of the shed for car repairs has also involved persistent use of my clients’ private driveway for the parking of vehicles, a use for which no rights exist.It has also involved that third party and all of his customers using Highcroft Drive, a privately maintained residential driveway, to get to and from the shed.
My clients believe that Mr Bailey, as district and parish councillor, has a high responsibility to ensure compliance with planning regulations and conditions by all property owners within the Rudgwick district. Where there is a failure to comply they would expect Horsham District Council to take prompt and effective action to ensure compliance.
In this case, the unauthorised use has now continued for a period of six months and the district council is still ‘investigating the matter’. It is my clients’ view that, in these circumstances and where a district councillor is involved, that sort of delay is not acceptable.
It is against that background that my clients have chosen to bring this issue into the public domain and the most effective way of achieving that was to lock the gates.
Solicitor, Monks Gate,