High Court issues emergency injunction against unlawful expansion of Bucks caravan site

The High Court has issued an emergency injunction to prevent the expansion of a caravan park in the open Buckinghamshire countryside without planning permission.

London's Royal Courts of Justice
London's Royal Courts of Justice

Buckinghamshire County Council acted after getting wind of alleged plans to extend the authorised Willows Caravan Park, Marsh Lane, Bishopstone, onto adjoining land.

A council officer took photographs in May of a seven-metre wide hardcore track that had been laid on the greenfield site, the court was told.

And, attached to a wooden post, she noticed a plan which suggested that a number of caravans were to be placed on the site.

On May 23, the council issued a 28-day temporary stop notice to prevent further works, said senior judge, Mrs Justice Eady.

The council claimed that, in breach of the notice, the track had since been tarred over, effectively turning it into a metalled road.

And, on June 5, the council obtained an emergency injunction against the site's owner, James Sweeney, who lives on the Willows Caravan Park with his family.

When the case returned to court on June 11, the judge extended the interim injunction pending a full trial of the council's claim.

Sweeney denied having carried out further works that would require planning consent after the stop notice was issued.

He said that he had merely sprayed some tar onto the track to keep down dust from the hardcore.
His assertion that the planning officer had told him that no injunction would be sought was disputed by the council.

The judge said that it was to his credit that he had now put in a planning application, but it had yet to be considered, let alone granted.

There was no planning permission currently in place either for the works already carried out, any further works or any change of use.

"It is apparent that there is an intention to carry out further development on the land," she added.
Photographs of the site suggested that "significantly more work" had been carried out after the stop notice was issued.

And there was a proper basis for the council's "apprehension" that breaches of planning control might continue unless the injunction were extended.

Sweeney argued that his family needs more living space and the judge accepted that their human rights might in due course be engaged.

But the council was acting as "custodian of the public interest" and the "proportionate" injunction would "maintain the status quo" pending trial.

The judge left the door open for Sweeney to apply to revoke the injunction or vary its terms.

Buckinghamshire County Council v Sweeney & Ors. Case Number: QB-2020-001932


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