Contractors working on behalf of Wycombe District Council have performed a massive clear up operation at a property in Whitelands Road, High Wycombe.
Over several years repeated attempts were made to persuade the owner to clear away illegally stored vehicles and rubbish and to also take down an illegal extension.
Two planning enforcement notices also failed so Wycombe District Council brought in contractors to tackle the job and sent the bill, for £59,854.90, to the owner.
The two planning enforcement notices ordered the owners of the properties to clear the site of scrap items including cars and gas cannisters and also to demolish and remove an illegal single storey rear extension which was being used as living quarters.
Because council officers were unable to get the owners of the properties to comply and because of the severity of the situation Wycombe District Council took direct action to have the sites cleared. In thirty years this is only the third time that Wycombe District Council has taken direct action of this kind.
In deciding to go down this route public safety was a factor which weighed heavily. The fire service had attended the site previously because of the continuing and immediate risk of fire which could cause damage to this and other properties in the area as well as posing a serious risk to human health.
The specialist contractors removed ten cars in various states of disrepair and around ten tonnes of waste which included gas canisters and the remains of previous waste fires.
‘The unlawful extension housed some of the most squalid living conditions I have seen in 30 years enforcement experience, including mould, damp and rat infestation‘ said Nigel Wicks of Enforcement Services Ltd. who carried out the work for Wycombe District Council’s planning enforcement team.
‘Usually it is possible to resolve a situation like this by working with people but sometimes we just hit a block‘ said Cllr David Johncock, Cabinet Member for Planning and Sustainability at Wycombe District Council. ‘In cases like this it’s not just unsightly for the neighbourhood and the people living there, but there are very real safety issues so we’re sending out a strong message that we can, and will, take tough direct action if we need to.‘
Wycombe District Council has taken proactive steps to ensure they will recover the cost directly from the landowners under a court order so there will be no cost to the public purse.
The site will continue to be monitored closely to ensure the land remains clear.
Wycombe District Council are advising anyone who may have questions or concerns about their own property or that of a neighbour to contact 01494 461000 or use the planning enforcement contact form at www.wycombe.gov.uk.