Councillors have agreed to take court action against a landowner who put down 90m of track across a Balcombe field without planning permission.
At a meeting of Mid Sussex District Council’s planning committee, members were told that the problems started two years ago when 145m of track was laid across the field in Crawley Lane.
An application for the track and a barn was refused but the track had already been built, so the council issued an enforcement notice telling the landowner to remove it.
A second application, for 55m of track and a barn, was later approved – but the remaining 90m had to go.
The committee was told that no attemot was made to remove the track and nothing was ever done at the 14-hectare patch of land, which is now overgrown.
Asking for authorisation to start the prosecution, the planning officer told members that if the landowner ‘does get on with what he’s required to do’ then no action would be needed.
Andrew McNaughton (Con, Ardingly & Balcombe) said: “I don’t see why we should hang about. Ample opportunity and ample time has been given.
“At the end of the day, it’s just building something when they were refused permission. I think we’ve waited long enough.”
Phillip Coote (Con, Crawley Down & Turners Hill) agreed and added: “In my experience the planning office do not enter into enforcement easily or just off the cuff.
“It takes quite a long time and they give everybody a great deal of latitude.”
Members agreed unanimously to start the prosecution under section 179 of the Town and Country Planning Act, which could lead to a maximum fine of £20,000.