Hare Hatch Sheeplands fight on after planning appeal was rejected

Hare Hatch Sheeplands saw its latest planning appeal rejected during a judicial review, but the owner has promised to fight on.

On Tuesday the 6th of September, planning inspector Bridget Campbell dismissed the garden centre?s appeal against Wokingham Borough Council?s refusal to grant a certificate of lawful use.

Matthew Green, who is owner Rob Scott’s planning consultant, told the inspector it “was in the public interest” for her to listen to the evidence, at the hearing in the council’s Shute End offices.

The inspector decided she could not issue a certificate because the enforcement notice, which was issued after the centre illegally expanded onto a green belt, is still in place.

She put an immediate end to the hearing and said that proceeding would be ?a waste of time and expense.?

Councillor Mark Ashwell, executive member for planning and regeneration, said: “From our point of view, it’s a victory for common sense, they were never going to win it. We are worried they are being advised poorly.

“We get hung whenever people talk about the amount this is costing the taxpayer. If we get taken to an enquiry, as we did yesterday, and the case can’t be won then we have to get the costs back.

“It [the process of claiming back] has already started, we are now claiming the costs back.”

He added: “We have pleaded with them to take a different approach, it was obvious they were never going to win.

“There has to be an end to all of this. We’re often asked ‘what’s the end game?’ but the trouble is we’re always reacting to what’s being done.”

After the hearing Mr Green said: “Wokingham Borough Council has the power to withdraw the enforcement notice at any point and then reimpose it.

“Most reasonable people would have expected the council to withdraw the notice [so it did not restrict the inspector]. Their decision not to do so is one I do not understand.?

While Mr Scott reminded staff and customers “it’s business as usual” at the garden centre before saying: “The fight goes on.?

The garden centre has been stuck in a hostile dispute with the local authority since 2012, when it was handed the enforcement notice.

The two parties are due to meet again in the High Court on Friday, October 21, when Hare Hatch Sheeplands will appeal against the enforcement notice.

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