Biggleswade self-storage company fined more than £2,100 for breaking planning rules

A landowner and two directors of self-storage company ‘Contain-it-4U Ltd’ were fined

By News Reporter
Tuesday, 5th July 2022, 5:43 pm

A landowner and two directors of self-storage company ‘Contain-it-4U Ltd’ in Biggleswade have been fined more than £2,100 after failing to comply with an enforcement notice issued by Central Bedfordshire Council for running a business without planning consent.

The case was heard at Luton Magistrates Court on Friday, June 24, with all three individuals (landowner Lewis McEwan and company directors Roger Buckley and James McCabe) entering a guilty plea. They were each fined £293, ordered to pay the council’s costs of £1,171.89 (split three ways) and a victim surcharge each of £34, making the total cost of the offence £2,152.89.

In late 2018, the council received complaints that shipping containers had been brought onto a de-commissioned gas works site at the rear of St Johns Street, Biggleswade.

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Following a visit from a Planning Enforcement Officer, where attempts were made to resolve the issue informally, the shipping containers were not removed. In August 2019, the landowner and directors were served with an enforcement notice. This required them to cease the unauthorised use and remove the storage containers from the land.

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The enforcement notice was appealed; however, the Planning Inspectorate dismissed the appeal, upholding the council’s enforcement notice. The business was informed they had until the end of February 2021 to remove the containers and stop using the site as a self-storage business, but they did not comply.

The landowner and directors were therefore prosecuted for the offence of failing to comply with the council’s enforcement notice.Councillor Kevin Collins, Executive Member for Planning and Regeneration, said: “The council can only use its enforcement powers where it is considered expedient to do so, but we will take action where something is causing real harm.

“This case is a clear example of unauthorised activity where, when informal engagement has not been successful, we have pursued legal action and prosecuted those responsible.”

As of June 2022, the site is no longer being used for self-storage and all shipping containers have been now removed. This case has been impacted by COVID-19, with implications for the way the team had to investigate during periods of restrictions and national lockdowns and latterly courts working through a backlog of criminal cases.