THE owners of a property in the New Forest national park have been taken to court over failing to demolish and remove an unauthorised outbuilding.

Christine Megan Howe, 70, and William Howe, 72, were prosecuted by the New Forest National Park Authority (NPA) for breaching an enforcement notice in relation to the structure on land at their address in Hyde near Fordingbridge.

The NPA served the enforcement notice on November 8, 2018, after the outbuilding had gone up without planning permission.

The owners reportedly failed to lodge an appeal in the allotted time and the notice became effective with compliance due by April 9, 2019.

A spokesperson for the NPA said despite giving the Howes "plenty of opportunities to put the matter right", including extending the time for compliance and negotiating alternative options through the planning process, they still did not comply.

Further action by the NPA was postponed at the beginning of 2020 due to the pandemic but in September last year legal papers were served.

The owners did eventually demolish the illegal outbuilding but by this time a prosecution had already been set in motion.

Both defendants, of Gorley Lynch, Hyde, entered guilty pleas, having initially pleaded not guilty, at West Hampshire Magistrates' Court on November 12 of this year.

Christine Howe was discharged conditionally for 12 months, while her husband, William Howe, was fined £750 and ordered to pay £5,000 for the NPA's costs and a £170 surcharge.

Steve Avery, New Forest National Park executive director, said: "Public confidence in the planning system is quickly undermined if persistent breaches of planning control are allowed to go unchallenged, especially in an area as special as the New Forest.

"Taking the owners to court was a last resort but unfortunately they left us with little other choice.

"Upholding our planning policies is vitally important as they help us to protect the distinctive landscape character of the New Forest."


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