A BUSINESSMAN fears he will be made jobless and homeless if Maldon District Council issue a fourth enforcement notice.

John Patrick has owned and lived on Bakers Nursery in Bakers Lane, Little Totham since 2006.

The nursery grows various different plants and flowers and has been going since 1988.

During his time there, Mr Patrick has lived on site in what was initially a mobile home when it was first given permission to be installed in 1988.

John claims it has since been upgraded and has functioned as a traditional home.

Despite this, the council have issued an enforcement notice on him three times claiming the residence is unlawful.

John appealed all of the enforcement notices, in which he was successful each time, but the planning inspector did not issue a certificate of lawful use for his home, meaning the council could issue another notice.

At the last appeal, which was decided in August, the inspectorate gave John temporary permission to continue to use his home for a year and must prove his business is viable at the end of it.

However, John claims the council has not paid costs owed to him from the appeals and the costs has put a huge strain on his business and personal health, and stated the council had not acknowledged all of his evidence he previously gave them.

John said: “Due to the considerable amount of time and money that I have had to dedicate to fighting these appeals and dealing with the shambolic planning system it has inevitably affected the profitability of my business and resulted in job losses.

Maldon and Burnham Standard:

Inside Mr Patrick's Bakers Lane Nursery

“The last appeal took more than 18 months to reach a conclusion and now I have spent 12 years living with the uncertainty if I will be evicted from my home and business, a business that my family and I have invested so much time and money in.

“The stress and anxiety that 12 years of trying to deal with a planning system that allows councils to manipulate and twist the rules has seriously affected my health.

“I’ve worked in the horticultural business for 25 years, and I need to be able to live on site for it to work.

“The home is not mobile anymore, it’s impossible to move, it has no wheels, and functions in every way a house does.

“Without it, I don’t know what I’m going to do. The whole process has destroyed my life and now the stress has become too much.

“Come August, the council won’t take into account any evidence I provide and there’ll be another enforcement notice given.”

Council responds to businessman's claims

Penny Channer, Chairman of the Maldon District Council’s Planning and Licensing Committee, said: “In December 2015, the council issued an enforcement notice in relation to the unauthorised stationing of a caravan. Whilst it is accepted that there has been a caravan on site for a number of years this has been through a succession on temporary permissions; the most recent of which expired in November 2012. 

“Mr Patrick took advantage of his opportunity to appeal the council’s decision to serve an enforcement notice on four separate grounds. The Inspector allowed the appeal on one of these grounds but only granted a temporary permission for 12 months which will expire in July 2018. In doing so the Inspector stated:

Such a permission would give the appellant an opportunity to provide the financial and other information that has so far not been forthcoming to show that the business has grown (as it appears to have done taking into account the appearance of the site and the number of plants that were there at my visit) and is financially viable. I appreciate that that may not be the answer that the appellant is seeking, however, the information that needed to be provided regarding his business to support a permanent permission simply has not been included in the appeal papers.

Maldon and Burnham Standard:

“Mr Patrick has been provided a further opportunity to submit the relevant information needed to meet the council’s policy requirements for the granting of planning permission for an agricultural workers dwelling. The council would encourage Mr Patrick to take full advantage of this opportunity. Once the temporary permission expires and if no new application has been submitted the council will consider the expediency of taking enforcement action in accordance with the adopted policy.

"At the time of the appeal Mr Patrick put forward a number of arguments including that the breach of planning control is immune from enforcement due to the length of time since the breach occurred and that the stationing of a caravan on the site does not require planning permission. These ideas were dismissed by the Inspector as being incorrect.

“The council is aware that there is an outstanding award of costs to be paid to Mr Patrick. The council is attempting to work with Mr Patrick to reach a reasonable figure as it is necessary for Mr Patrick to be able to demonstrate that the figure he is seeking relates to the award of cost. It should also be noted that there are currently two award of costs against Mr Patrick, to the benefit of the council, outstanding.”