Mother and son from Charnock Richard found guilty of 7 offences between them relating to breach of an enforcement notice
22 May 2023
Stephen Hough, 57, of Southgates Charnock Richard and his mother Janette Hough, 74 of Church Lane Charnock Richard, continued to breach and show non-compliance following an enforcement notice served back in 2014 in relation to the use of green belt land on Church Lane, Charnock Richard.
The investigation resumed last year following a number of complaints about the land received by Chorley Council, leading to the prosecution of the pair at Lancaster Magistrates' Court on Monday 15 May 2023.
A 2014 enforcement notice required the owner and/or occupier of the land to remove an outbuilding, containers and a caravan, allowing six months to comply (from 21 November 2014). This led to Chorley Council bringing a prosecution against Stephen Hough in 2015 (as the owner of the land at the time) who pleaded guilty to breach of the enforcement notice in February 2016.
Councillor Alistair Morwood, Executive Member of Chorley Council (Planning and Development) said: "As a council we won't hesitate to take action when it comes to protecting Chorley's Green Belt against the illegal actions of those who think it is OK to misuse the land and impact on others within the community."
In March 2022, Chorley Council received a complaint relating to the siting of a static caravan on the land which was then investigated. Other structures on the land that should have been removed under the enforcement notice were found, together with another unauthorised development that had taken place (without planning permission) since the enforcement notice was issued, including container units and a small outbuilding on the land in breach of the enforcement notice. The site was also littered with vehicles and on inspection of the container units, these were found to contain items such as toolboxes, car parts and accessories.
When interviewed by Chorley Council, Mr Hough could provide no explanation for their presence on the land in breach of the notice, other than he needed somewhere to put his stuff.
Mr Hough switched ownership of the land between himself and his mother on at least two occasions. On examination of Land Registry records by Chorley Council on 14 June 2022 the current owner of the land (from November 2017) was shown as Janette Ann Hough- Mr Hough's Mother. He was owner from 1999 and then Mrs Hough became owner in September 2014. It was then transferred back to Mr Hough in April 2015, then back to his mother again in November 2017.
Janette Hough had been served with the enforcement notice in 2014. She did not respond to a letter in August 2022 inviting her to an interview under caution with Chorley Council, demonstrating no willingness to assist the Council.
Subsequent site visits conducted by a Chorley Council Officer in September 2022 and again in April 2023 revealed that the site was as bad as ever with no compliance.
Three summonses were brought against Mrs Hough - all commencing from the first date of her current period of ownership of the land and ending on the date the charges were laid.
At a hearing at Lancaster Magistrates' Court on 15 May 2023, Mrs Hough pleaded guilty to the three offences with which she was charged and fined £40, ordered to pay costs of £871 and a victim surcharge of £30.
Mr Hough pleaded guilty to all four charges laid against him and was fined £200 and ordered to pay costs of £1,818 and a victim surcharge of £20.
Both defendants were fined in respect of the offence to remove an outbuilding and two containers on the land from 2014 and no separate penalty was imposed in respect of the other offences in respect of which they pleaded guilty.
Mrs Hough said that one container had been removed and the other two containers were in the process of being removed.