News Council Ordered To Pay Thousands In Costs

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Council ordered to pay thousands in costs
8th July 2019

By Sandra Pearce

A seven-year legal battle between Wokingham Borough Council and a garden centre has finally come to an end after the authority was ordered to pay thousands in costs.

Hare Hatch Sheeplands has been embroiled in a planning enforcement dispute with the council since 2012, which accused Hare Hatch owner Robert Scott of extending his land unlawfully.

In January, he and seven other centre business owners including a pet shop retailer, heard a Court of Appeal deem the council’s decision to prosecute the businessmen as ‘flawed’ and ‘unfair’.

On Thursday, June 27, the parties met again in Reading Crown Court after the business owners looked to claim costs from the council, reports the Reading Chronicle.

They will be awarded £68,000 after Judge Angela Morris ordered the local authority to pay up.

Saying ‘there needed to be a finality’, the judge said: “As I am sure everyone will be at pains to understand, this matter has gone on for an inordinate length of time, from both sides and I am quite sure that from both sides everyone will want to have a line drawn under this matter at the earliest possible opportunity.”

The other business owners included pet retailer Alistair Mills, of Petstop, and Derek Chamberlain, of Quality Garden Buildings. They will receive the money within 28 days.

Leader of the opposition, Liberal Democrats councillor Lindsay Ferris, said: “I’m not surprised they have had to pay and I think this is only going to be part of it. They have got their own costs to pay too – that could be quite substantial as well.

 “This is quite damning for the council. It just seems to have all gone wrong.”

A Wokingham Borough Council spokesperson said: “Our primary concern throughout this long-running dispute has been to protect the Green Belt from unlawful development – and we have been successful in that. There is still an injunction in place preventing unauthorised development on the Green Belt at Hare Hatch.”