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Enforcement action on nuisance neighbours and their nightmare gardens

Published Thursday, 10 March 2016

Coventry City Council has enforced the clearance of two highly overgrown gardens in the northeast of the city. 

Officers from the Council’s Planning Enforcement Team initially inspected the properties in Wyken Avenue and Purcell Road in 2014 after they received complaints that both the front and rear gardens of the properties were overgrown. 
The team cleared the properties last month following the owners’ failure to comply with an enforcement notice served after the initial inspections. 
Cllr Hazel Sweet, chair of Coventry City Council’s planning committee, welcomed the enforcement action. 
She said: “We want Coventry’s neighbourhoods to be safe, clean and welcoming for everyone and we will ensure that when someone fails to maintain their property to the point where it becomes a danger to themselves and others, we’ll take enforcement action.
“Of course we understand that it can sometimes be a difficult job to maintain a property – but this wasn’t about gardens that had got a bit out of control. These two homes were being engulfed by their gardens – front and back. And trees and weeds were spilling on to the pavements and their neighbours gardens.

“I hope this action sends a signal to other people – we won’t tolerate situations like this – and if we can’t work with people to find an amicable solution we will take action.” 
During the first inspection in Wyken Avenue, council officers discovered that the overgrown gardens were harbouring waste and vermin, and vegetation was overhanging on to the public footpath. The property was also in a generally poor condition and the unkempt gardens were posing a risk of harm to the property’s neighbours.
The Planning Enforcement Team attempted to engage with the occupier of the property to encourage him to keep the property and gardens in a clean and tidy condition and the vegetation overhanging the footpath was cut back and vermin infestation dealt with. 
However, informal attempts to resolve the issue in 2014 weren’t successful and consequently an enforcement notice was served under Section 215 of The Town and Country Planning Act 1990 as the condition of the land was considered seriously harmful. 
The notice required that the front and rear gardens be cleared of all waste and vegetation; and that works also be undertaken to improve the appearance of the house. 
The occupier of the property failed to undertake any of the work and was subsequently found guilty of failure to comply with the Section 215 Notice by Nuneaton Magistrates Court in 2015. The occupier was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay the Council’s costs of £729 alongside a victim surcharge of £50. 
Despite prosecution and numerous further warnings the occupier failed to undertake any of the works required by the Notice and the property remained in a poor condition.
His failure to comply meant that the Council acted under Section 219 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, allowing the council to enter the land and undertake the works required as 'works in default'. 
The property in Purcell Road was also subject to a notice in February 2014 ordering the works to be completed by May 2014. However, no works were undertaken and the property owner was found guilty in his absence for non-compliance with the Section 215 Notice by Nuneaton Magistrates Court in October 2014. 
Despite warnings, the property owner failed again to undertake any clearing and maintenance works and was prosecuted again in May 2015. The Council acted under section 219 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, to enter the land and undertake the works required as 'works in default’. 
The costs of the works carried out at both properties will be recovered by the Council from the owners. 

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