Fowlers stone wood

A landowner has been served a new enforcement notice by Gravesham Borough Council.

A landowner responsible for unauthorised development at Fowlers Stone Wood, Vigo, has until April to comply with the latest Enforcement Notice issued by Gravesham Borough Council, and has six months to restock the woodland.

It is the latest in an extensive catalogue of action the council has taken since it was first made aware of trees being felled on site in April 2020.

This culminated in the landowner, Gareth Daniel Sullivan, receiving a 12-month prison sentence in October 2021 for breaching a High Court injunction obtained by the council preventing the felling of protected trees and the development of land at Fowlers Stone Wood.

A subsequent Enforcement Notice relating to the material change of use of the land and the operational development taken to facilitate that use was issued to and appealed by the landowner in early 2022. The Planning Inspectorate declined to determine that appeal.

Throughout 2023 and following advice from legal Counsel, the council worked with partners including Kent Police to gather the additional evidence and information required for further direct action to be considered.

The latest Enforcement Notice was served in November of last year and with no appeal having been lodged, this came into effect on 22 January.

Under the terms of the notice, the landowners and/or occupiers must cease use of the land for residential purposes and clear the site by 22 April and restock the woodland within six months.

Cllr Shane Mochrie-Cox, Gravesham Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Strategic Environment, said: “We understand the frustrations of local residents that the thoroughly unpleasant situation at Fowlers Stone Wood is taking so long to resolve.

“The reality is we are bound by the law. We have to follow our legal advice to the letter to ensure we have the greatest chance of success. If we attempt to cut corners, we run the risk of opening up loopholes that could be exploited to draw out the process even further.

“We are using all the powers we have at our disposal to bring an end to this situation.

“We wish we could do more and do it quicker but that requires a change in the law and more powers and resources from central Government.

“We will be watching the site carefully in the coming weeks to ensure this latest Enforcement Notice is complied with and are ready to take further court action if it is not, armed with all the additional information required to give us the greatest chance of success.”

Cllr mochrie cox 368 x 445

Published: Friday, 9th February 2024