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Appeal: Residents’ evidence leads to quashing of Milton Keynes enforcement

Aerial view of Milton Keynes / Duncan Cuthbertson, Shutterstock_1765412900

An enforcement notice alleging an unauthorised change of use of public space in Milton Keynes has been quashed after an inspector considered residents’ letters and photographs alongside Google Street images.

LOCATIONLand west of 44/46/48/50 Randall Drive, 6/7/9/11/13/15 Gomez Close and 25/27/29 Keel Way, Oxley Park, Milton Keynes MK4 4SZ
AUTHORITYMilton Keynes Council
INSPECTORPeter Willows
PROCEDUREWritten representations

Quashed on legal grounds



Barrett Homes Northampton challenged the Milton Keynes Council notice, which alleged the unauthorised change of use to private amenity garden land at properties in Oxley Park. The appeal relates to a strip of land in front of some houses on a modern housing estate.

Barrett’s appeal claimed it was too late to take enforcement action by the time the notice was issued in October 2020. Under section 171B of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, the relevant period for taking enforcement action is 10 years. Barrett provided signed letters from residents of each of the houses to which the strip has served as garden land as well as letters from third parties, photographs taken at various dates since 2008 and images from Google Street View captured in 2010.

Inspector Peter Willows said the developer’s evidence consistently supported its claim. While the standardised letters provided by residents do not carry the weight of more formal declarations, “they nevertheless provide coherent and relevant evidence in support of the appellant’s case, particularly in those instances where the residents moved into the property more than 10 years before the notice was issued, which is in all but two cases”.

Although the photographic evidence did not conclusively prove the use of each plot as gardens over the period, the appearance of the land in the images is consistent with such use, the inspector added. Some of the plots had started to be used as gardens more than 10 years before the notice, he said. The appellant’s evidence was “sufficiently clear, consistent and precise to make its version of events the most likely, on the balance of probability”.

Any gaps in the information were relatively minor and there was no clear evidence to contradict the claim. The inspector therefore decided the appeal should succeed and quashed the enforcement notice.

The inspector’s report – case reference 3263233 – can be read here.

Image credit | Duncan Cuthbertson, Shutterstock