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Coverdale man pleads guilty in enforcement case

Northallerton, 20 November, 2017

The owner of one of the tallest farm buildings in the National Park has admitted in court that he has not complied with an enforcement notice issued by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA).

The enforcement notice required the farm building to be demolished or reduced to the same height as the building it had replaced.

Northallerton Magistrates’ Court today fined Andrew Avison of Middlefields Farm, Melmerby, £750 and ordered him to pay legal costs of £1000 and a surcharge of £75.

Mr Avison constructed the building in 2014 to replace one which had burned down. He did not apply for planning permission. At nearly 13 metres to the ridge of the roof, the new building was nearly 5 metres taller than one it replaced.

Such was its prominence in Coverdale, it became known locally as the ‘giraffe house’.  A planning application was submitted retrospectively, but was refused because the height, bulk, materials and siting of the building was detrimental to the quality of the landscape.

Two appeals - one against the refusal of planning permission and one against the enforcement notice - were dismissed by the Independent Planning Inspectorate.  

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s Chairman, Carl Lis, said: “Mr Avison was given ample opportunity to comply with the terms of the enforcement notice but chose not to do so.

“The building at Middlefields Farm is an eyesore.  It is one of the tallest agricultural building in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and is totally out of keeping with other buildings in Coverdale.  

“Today’s court proceedings do not affect the status of the enforcement notice.  It still stands, and I urge Mr Avison to take action to reduce the height of the shed.  

“If Mr Avison does nothing, the Authority can either take further action through the courts, or employ a contractor to demolish the building – and send him the bill.  I hope that this case serves to retain public confidence in the planning system.”

Mr Lis added:  “During the course of today’s proceedings, Mr Avison alleged that a senior planning officer approached him seeking a bribe.  He also alleged that two members of the Authority were complicit.

“He made us aware of these allegations earlier this year – and we carried out a thorough investigation in response.  

“This investigation concluded that the allegation was not only scurrilous but malicious.  The allegation has caused considerable distress to the officer.  It has also cast a shadow on the reputations of two long-serving and well-respected local politicians.  

“Mr Avision’s decision today to make his allegation public in court was clearly nothing more than a desperate and ill-advised attempt to try to wriggle out of a simple obligation to comply with national planning laws.  Mr Avison has resorted to pure invention and embarrassed himself.”

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