Landowner who ignored planning system to face ‘significant costs’

Parish councillor Fiona McConnachie next to an unpermitted access trench in The Street, Thakeham. Pic Steve Robards SR1815890
Parish councillor Fiona McConnachie next to an unpermitted access trench in The Street, Thakeham. Pic Steve Robards SR1815890

Landowners who ignore the planning system ‘will be left with significant legal costs to put things right’, according to a Thakeham parish councillor.

Fiona McConnachie made the comments after a landowner was given eight months to reinstate a bank which had been disfigured at the western end of The Street, Thakeham.

An access trench – located at the gateway to the centre of Thakeham – appeared in 2017 without the granting of planning permission.

Thakeham Parish Council worked to have the ‘attractive entrance’ restored before Horsham District Council agreed.

The district council issued an enforcement notice for reinstatement of the bank which was later appealed by the landowner.

However, the district council’s decision was upheld by planning inspector Simon Hand.

Ms McConnachie said: “This should never have happened. I hope the outcome sends a clear signal that anyone who attempts to ignore or manipulate the planning system may find it backfires, leaving them with significant legal and engineering costs to put things right.

“We will be monitoring to ensure this is done to a high, professional standard.

“Thakeham is one of the few councils in the district with a ‘made’ neighbourhood plan. The inspector (Simon Hand) gave considerable weight to the policies outlined in it related to The Street as a conservation area and sunken lanes as a characteristic feature of the local landscape.”

If the bank is not reinstated within the next eight months, the district council will have the capacity to take legal action.

Ms McConnachie added: “It’s going to be interesting to see what happens now because it is a major piece of work.

“People just need to think before they take action in the future. Planning rules may be boring but they are there for a reason.”