A landowner has been fined £200 after admitting he failed to comply with notices ordering that he clean up an eyesore in the south Northamptonshire countryside.
After pleading guilty at Northampton Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday December 8 , Neil Breen of Home Farm, Abthorpe, was fined and ordered to pay £337 costs following the prosecution brought by South Northamptonshire Council (SNC).
In 2013, SNC received a complaint regarding the storage of caravans, horse boxes, cars and vans, and heaps of furniture in fields on the outskirts of Abthorpe.
The fields are designated for agricultural use; they lay next to a main road, are crossed by public footpaths, and are alongside residential properties.
An officer from SNC visited the land in 2014, and concluded that overall it was in such an untidy state that it was an eyesore.
Contact was made with Breen in January 2014, and while he agreed to clear the land, he failed to do so in the time scale agreed.
Consequently, the council served three formal notices in September 2014 legally requiring the fields to be cleared by July 2015, allowing them to be returned to agriculture, but those notices were not complied with.
After the hearing, Councillor Rebecca Breese, SNC’s portfolio holder for planning and environment said: “One of the council’s key priorities is to protect what is special about the district, including its visual beauty.
“Although the council wants landowners to take responsibility for their properties voluntarily, it does have the power to take action when they fail in their obligations and their activities start to negatively impact on others.
“This kind of action is rare, but the landowner was given ample opportunity to comply and court action was very much our last resort.”
The land remains in the untidy state, and the council will keep the matter under review. The notices remain in force, and the owner can be prosecuted again if he fails to tidy the land, and/or the council can carry out the work at his expense.
The fields will be inspected again in the New Year.
Anyone who suspects a breach of planning rules should visit - http://www.southnorthants.gov.uk/Servicepage1158.htm, or call 01327 322237.