“Bath & North East Somerset Council has taken direct action under s.178 of the Town and Country Planning Act to demolish a large building that was built nearly ten years ago without planning permission in the Green Belt.
Cllr Bob Goodman, cabinet member for Development and Neighbourhoods at the council, said the local authority, so far as he was aware, had never taken enforcement action this far.
The two-storey building at Folly Lane, Stowey, was built in 2008 without planning permission sparking numerous complaints, the council said.
Following an investigation by Bathnes, in 2008 the land owner and the company responsible (AJP Growers) were served an enforcement notice requiring the demolition of the building and the restoration of the land.
The notice was appealed but the appeal was dismissed in 2009 giving the landowner until 2010 to comply with the enforcement notice.
However the owner repeatedly failed to comply with the notice despite what the council said was numerous attempts to regularise the development. The local authority launched prosecution proceedings over non-compliance with the notice.
A successful prosecution in July 2016 saw the owner of the land and AJP Growers convicted of an offence under S.179 of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1990.
Councillors then agreed direct action to have the building demolished in order to ensure compliance with the notice. Works were due to commence in 2017 however bats were found in the building, so the council had to have an ecologist survey the site and obtain a licence from Natural England to allow its lawful demolition.
Demolition works pursuant to S.178 and in line with council’s resolution were due to start on site on Monday (19 February). All costs associated with the demolition will be recoverable against the land, the council said.
Cllr Goodman said: “I am disappointed that the owners have let it get to this point. However we have pursued this case and at long last this illegal building, which is a real eyesore, will be demolished and the land put back as it should have been done almost ten years ago.
“Nationally there are only a handful of these interventions each year mainly because people comply with Enforcement Notices before it gets to this stage, however the public must have confidence in Bath & North East Somerset Council as a planning authority that we have the teeth to follow through with the most extreme form of enforcement available to us when necessary.”