Elsenham car park ‘appeal’ lost
- Credit: Archant
An Elsenham fruit distributor, who rented out a field for a company to use as parking for Stansted Airport, has failed in court to challenge a council order to remove all vehicles from the land.
Instead Chelmsford Magistrates Court upheld the Uttlesford District Council order on Monday.
David Murnane, 74, of Apple Tree House, Fullers End, had been taken to court by the council for failing to obey the order. But he claimed that the land behind his home had been used for storing vehicles for more than 35 years and that this barred the council from taking action against him.
He also argued that the notice should have been served on Car Storage Ltd, of Takeley, and not just on him and “persons unknown”.
He denied breaching the enforcement notice which was issued on 14 March 2014 by failing to remove all vehicles from the land.
However, the magistrates found him guilty. Now he must wait to hear his fate. They adjourned sentencing until June 4.
Chairman Angela Tucker said there was no injustice to Murnane because, although the two companies were not served, he was informed of the appeal process and took no action to appeal.
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She added: “At the time he was leasing the land and as a business owner, he was aware of the planning restrictions on the land. With an enforcement notice hanging over him, he should have been more pro-active as the owner.”
The court heard that council received a complaint and found more than 100 cars on the field behind Murnane’s house. He told the authority that the land had been used by his company De Savoury Foods Ltd, which supplied fresh fruit to the trade, and that he rented it out to another company for airport parking.
The council investigations with registered keepers revealed they had booked through two companies, CSL of Takeley, and Stansted Car Storage Ltd.
Enforcement team leader Sonia Williams told magistrates Murnane didn’t complete a planning application for a certificate of lawfulness which could have affected the issuing of an enforcement notice.
She said vehicles were still parked on the land in April 2014 and last Thursday, there were 109 parked.
Mrs Williams admitted that the enforcement notice was not also served on the two companies, whose names were known to UDC, but she said that was covered by posting a notice on the entrance to “persons unknown”.
Murnane, giving evidence, said he assumed the council would approach CSL as it used the land for storage.
“We used to put our vehicles anywhere where there was space. Its use started from 35 years ago,” he told the court.
He said: “It was our field but I thought the notice should have gone to CSL. As far as I was concerned it was their business. I didn’t think it was my responsibility yet I am the one being prosecuted.”
CSL owner and director Michael Harvey said he didn’t know about the notice until Murnane was summonsed to court. If he had, he would have challenged it.