Fined for Ripping Out Green Belt Hedgerow

The Rural Hedgerow in Caddington

Hedge destruction leads to further fines for mobile home site owner

The owners of an illegal mobile home site in Caddington have again been taken to court by Central Bedfordshire Council.

Just days after being ordered to pay £13,499 in costs, fines and a victim surcharge for operating the site without a licence, Mayphil Park Sales Ltd were further fined £500 with costs and a victim surcharge of £929.

Luton Magistrates’ Court heard that on September 11, 2019 the planning enforcement team received a complaint that a hedgerow along the boundary of the Hillcrest Mobile Home Park, Manor Road, Caddington was being removed.

Enforcement officers visited later that day and confirmed that a 70-metre section of protected rural hedgerow had been removed, leaving the stumps of trees and disturbed ground where the hedgerow had been grubbed out.

The hedgerow was in the Green Belt and is shown on the 1798 enclosure map for Caddington and possibly dated back to medieval times.

It was protected by law by reason of its historic importance and permission was required from the council to remove it. No permission had been sought in this case and if an application had been made then it would have been refused because of the hedgerow’s historic importance.

Mayphil Park Sales Ltd own the land where the hedgerow was and were responsible for its removal. They will now be served a Hedgerow Replacement Notice requiring a suitable hedgerow is replanted in the location.

Cllr Kevin Collins, Executive Member for Planning and Regeneration at the council said: “Our ancient hedgerows are part of the heritage of our predominantly rural patch.

“We will always act swiftly and decisively to protect them and bring to account anyone who damages them.”

DND editor, Alan Winter, has written to CBC, today,
 "Can the comms team please update me on ripped out treeline in Bedford Rd beside Dunstablians RUFC, and on ripped out hedgerow on Thorn Rd, both in Houghton Regis? Bellway Homes ripped out hedgerow contrary to plans showing they would be retained. Tree line destruction on Bedford Rd was an abuse by contractors who also went on to destroy Bidwell Spinney, also contrary to outline planning permission for HRN2 development. Will Cllr Collins, responsible, robustly defend the countryside in these two cases and come down heavily on the perpetrators, or is he just interested in defending his own patch of Central Bedfordshire?"

 Looking forward to Cllr Collins response on that. (Update12 /3/2020 see footnote)

On 25 February Savannah Frankham, Tommy Frankham and Mayphil Park Sales Ltd in Cambridge, were found guilty at Luton Magistrates’ Court and ordered to pay £13,499 in fines, costs and a victim surcharge.

S Frankham and T Frankham, who did not attend court, were found to be operating Hillcrest Mobile Home Park in Caddington under the business Mayphil Park Sales Ltd, without the correct legal licence in place.

The prosecution comes after months of investigation by Central Bedfordshire Council Housing Officers who discovered Hillcrest Mobile Home Park being run without a licence.

Despite various attempts by the Council to ensure the owners applied for an appropriate licence, Hillcrest Mobile Park Home continued to operate illegally and ignored all contact by officers.

Councillor Carole Hegley, Executive Member for Adults, Social Care, Housing Operations (HRA) and Customer Services, said: “Cases like these can be notoriously difficult to investigate and to bring to court, so I am delighted at this excellent result and that the site owners have been brought to justice.

“Residents who live on mobile home sites should be confident that the conditions they live in do not present a hazard to their health and safety. That is why we will continue to pursue site owners who fail to comply with the licensing requirements and enforce the law.”

The licensing of mobile home sites ensures the health and safety of all residents including the correct separation of units, fire safety standards are met, and sites are maintained to a high standard.

Footnote in response to queries of ripped out hedgerows and Bidwell Spinney destruction. (ME = Alan Winter)

12 March CBC, "We have previously responded to these queries".

What were the previous responses?
On 25 January 2019 CBC replied to my questions;

ME: Now that further works have taken place to remove practically all of the trees at the ancient woodland Bury Spinney, Bidwell, Houghton Regis, I seek to find out which HRN2 document(s) if any relate to the removal of Bidwell Spinney south of the Thorn Road. Have the trees that were there been lawfully removed? 

CBC: Yes
ME: Was there any other planning matter that authorised the removal of all of these trees? 

CBC: The works have been conducted within the highways boundary. Essentially, the works are advanced clearing works in association with the s.278 agreement for the new roundabout. All planning documents can be seen on our website:
ME: Has a breach of planning been committed? 

ME: Is there a highways approval for the removal of the spinney? 
CBC: Yes

 ME: Is the authority prepared to punish the vandalism of the ancient woodland? 

For the record:

On 11 February 2019, they replied to my further questions, saying,

ME: On examination of the document you kindly enclosed for me, this does not show any replanting works for the edge line of Dunstablians Rugby Union Club, or indeed show any removal of trees on the eastern side of Bedford Rd. Were the trees on the edge of that, on Bedford Rd, removed without permission? 

CBC: The clearance work has been done by our highways contractor, ahead of the construction of the new roundabout. It was done in accordance with the s.278 agreement made with the developer, and was on our highways land.

ME: Is the DRUFC being given every assistance to ensure a satisfactory resolution of the difficulty of their situation? The trees used to protect balls from going onto the road, but they are now exposed, as are motorists, to the danger. 

CBC: It would be up to developer to put fencing in place. We have already suggested that solution to the developer, and we will continue to encourage them to do so.

ME: While the situation is being resolved is the matter between the HRN2 developers and DRUFC, or does CBC also have a role in negotiating an outcome? 

CBC: We are trying to encourage a solution. Any additional fencing would be paid for by the developer. 

Source:  CBC

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