House builder fined for illegal work

PROPERTY developer Mullberry Homes Ltd has been fined £150,000 after yesterday (11 October) pleading guilty to carrying out unauthorised work on land in Barrow.

The Blackburn-based company was served with a Temporary Stop Notice, relating to works it was carrying out at a site south of Leece Lane in September 2021.

But it did not comply with the notice, leading to prosecution by Barrow Borough Council.

After pleading guilty to breaching a Temporary Stop Notice, Mullberry Homes, of 45 Preston New Road, Blackburn, was ordered to pay the £150k fine along with costs of £8470.80 and a court surcharge of £190.00.

Lee Roberts, Deputy Leader of the Council, said, “We are pleased with the outcome of yesterday’s decision and the assessment from the Judge.

 “Breaches of planning control such as this have a direct effect on the lives of our residents and Mullberry Homes had no respect for the planning system, the lives of our residents or the environment.

“We hope that this judgment acts as a deterrent for this Company and others who may consider acting in a similar manner in the future. Following 12 months of hard work and determination from our officers and legal team in bringing this case to Court, this judgment sends out a strong message.”

The court heard that in September 2021 Mullberry Homes entered land and without planning permission carried out unauthorised works of building and engineering operations namely soil excavation, mounding, regrading of land, deposit of hardcore, creation of hard-surfaced driveways and vehicular access and infilling of voids and associated ground clearance.

Green infrastructure in the form of mature hedgerows was ripped out and the works had a serious impact on the environment, which Barrow Borough Council’s policies seek to protect. Several complaints were received from local residents.

Pre-application advice was given to Mullberry Homes in July 2021, despite which works were still undertaken.

A Temporary Stop Notice was served by the Council, however unauthorised works continued which led to prosecution. In addition, an Enforcement Notice was served requiring the green infrastructure be reinstated, which Mullberry Homes unsuccessfully appealed against last month.

In yesterday’s court hearing, Mullberry Homes pleaded guilty to breaching a Temporary Stop Notice. The Judge determined that there was a high level of culpability because Mullberry Homes were experienced with the planning system and were aware of the implications of their actions.

The Judge was of the opinion that the level of fine needed to reflect the seriousness of the offence and act as a deterrent.

Mullberry Homes was fined £150,000, plus costs of £8,470.80 and a Court surcharge of £190, to be paid within 28 days.

Mullberry Homes Limited are a national house builder who have previously developed several sites in Barrow, including the former Thorncliffe School and Parkview School sites.