Monday, 5 July 2010

£12,000 bill over illegal house built in garden

A man is facing a £12,000 legal bill after a judge threw out his challenge against a council order telling him to tear down a house he had built in his garden without planning permission.

Leeds City Council had prosecuted Mr Ian Gordon of 56 The Drive, Cross Gates, Leeds, for failing to comply with an enforcement notice that ordered him to demolish the house. He had obtained planning permission for a detached home on the site, but what he built was significantly larger – creating a nightmare for his neighbours.

Following a failed bid to have the council’s legal action against him dismissed as an ‘abuse of process’, at Leeds Magistrates Court on Thursday Mr Gordon changed his plea and pleaded guilty to failing to comply with the enforcement notice.

He was fined £2,500 and ordered to pay costs to the council of £10,000.

The house Mr Gordon built was several metres bigger than what he had received permission for, the added size significantly affected the surrounding properties as well as harming the character of the area.

Mr Gordon had submitted a retrospective planning application which was refused by the council and an appeal to the Secretary of State was dismissed. The council ordered him to demolish the building and the Secretary of State upheld the council's decision in a second appeal and ordered that the building be demolished by 27th March 2009. He did not do so and the council then began legal proceedings over Mr Gordon’s failure to demolish the house.

Phil Crabtree, Leeds City Council’s chief planning officer, said:
“We are sorry for the length of time it is taking to resolve this matter, and the continuing impact this unauthorised building is having on local residents.
“The court’s verdict is welcome because we’re a step closer to resolving this issue – an illegal building that harms the character and appearance of the area and affects Mr Gordon’s neighbours.
“They are the ones who will continue to be adversely affected by this building until Mr Gordon either demolishes it or comes forward with an acceptable solution.
"With the further support of the court judgement we will continue to use all the powers at our disposal to sort this issue out.”

ENDS
For media enquiries please contact:
Michael Molcher, Leeds City Council (0113) 224 3937
e-mail: michael.molcher@leeds.gov.uk

Big response to questions on dog control powers – but more needed!

More than 700 people have responded to a city-wide consultation on potential powers that could impose new controls on dogs and responsibilities on their owners across Leeds.

Leeds City Council is now calling for any resident – whether they own a dog or not – to take part in a massive city-wide consultation about Dog Control Orders.

The orders could allow the council to ban dogs from certain areas of the city, designate areas where owners must keep their dogs on a lead and restrict the number of dogs that can be walked by one person at a time.

They could also mean that any dog owner in Leeds could be instructed to put their dog on a lead if it is likely to cause annoyance or disturbance.

The major consultation is asking local people what they think of these powers and how, and where, they could be applied. Posters and leaflets are being distributed to vets, supermarkets, public buildings, and parks notice boards across the city. Details have been put on the Kennel Club website, while the RSPCA and Dogs Trust are aware of the consultation and are informing people where possible.

These orders are being examined in two phases, with phase two taking place next year. Under the first phase, the council is looking at:
• Excluding dogs from some council-managed children’s play areas
• Limiting the number of dogs that can be walked by an individual – the proposal is for a limit of six
• A blanket city-wide order giving council officers the ability to instruct a dog owner to put their dog on a lead if it is likely to cause annoyance or disturbance


If the council makes any of these orders it will be a criminal offence to breach them. On conviction the offence can result in a fine of up to £1,000 or an offender can choose to pay a fixed penalty to avoid prosecution.

To give the council their views, people should go to www.leeds.gov.uk/dogs and complete the on-line questionnaire. A copy of the consultation documents, maps and lists identifying land that might be affected are available online or can be inspected at Knowsthorpe Gate, Cross Green, Leeds LS9 0NP. Hard copies of the questionnaire can be obtained by contacting 0113 3951765 or email environmental.action@leeds.gov.uk

Views must be submitted before 31 August 2010, when this consultation will close.

Councillor Tom Murray, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for environmental services, said:
“Irresponsible dog owners are a problem, blighting parks and streets with their pet’s mess and failing to properly control their animals. Yet using these new powers would obviously be a fundamental change in the way we deal with the problem.
“I'm sure people can appreciate that the scale of asking everyone for their views.
“However, I am pleased to see that residents – both owners and non-owners – have begun responding, so I am confident that the message is getting out.
“Before we decide which of these measures could help us deal with these issues, we need to know what the public think – whether they own a dog or not. Only then can we make an appropriate judgement of how we should to apply these new rules.”

ENDS
For media enquiries please contact:
Michael Molcher, Leeds City Council (0113) 224 3937
e-mail: michael.molcher@leeds.gov.uk