Farm Owners charged £8,000 over Unauthorised Caravans

In Loddiswell, the owners of a South Hams farm have been fined over eight thousand pounds due to the fact that they continuously refused to answer questions about unauthorised caravans on their land. The owners of Avon View Farm near Loddiswell – Andrew and Karen Vooght – have been found guilty of failing to reply to notices issued by South Hams District’s Planning and Environmental Health Departments. Furthermore, the couple, who live at Great Gate Farm in Loddiswell failed to attend their court hearing on December 14th, however the magistrates found them guilty in their absence.

On Avon View Farm there were eleven static caravans that did not have planning permission, and even though the council served a planning contravention notice asking a series of questions seeking information on the caravans, neither Karen nor Andrew Vooght responded. Due to this they were both fined the maximum penalty of one thousand pounds each, however as the static carvans fell into worse and worse disrepair the council’s environmental health department also ended up having to serve requisitions for information concerning the site. These requests were also ignored, meaning that Mr and Mrs Vooght were fined a further £3,000 each, and also each had to pay costs of £255 and a victim surcharge of £15.

South Ham’s executive member for planning, Councillor John Carter, said “It takes just a few minutes to respond to a requisition notice and in normal circumstances the council would seek to avoid taking any formal action like this. In this instance, the owners have consistently failed to engage meaningfully with the council and so ultimately we had no other course of action. There are at least 10 static caravans on this site without planning permission, some of which are occupied, for which the Vooght’s charge rent.”

It is important for those living in caravans, or who own motorhomes, to make sure the camps they are staying in are legal, and that the owners have planning permission to allow others to live on their land. Make sure that if you are planning on going to a camping site that you have adequate motorhome insurance, so if you do encounter any legal problems whilst on holiday you are covered for the costs.