A MAN has been left baffled after saying he was ordered to tear down his tiny wooden shed by the council because it was “inappropriate”.
John Horton, 65, has planted 100,000 trees and almost three miles of hedgerows but is now being told to scrap his tiny “office” in Adisham, Kent.
2John Horton was caught in a planning row with his councilCredit: SWNS2He was ordered to scrap his tiny “office” on his landCredit: SWNSThe broke out because Canterbury City Council is taking legal action against six landowners who are alleged to be in breach of planning regulations.
Officials deemed half-a-dozen buildings in the area had to be removed after locals reported tarmac roads, CCTV cameras, fencing, security lighting and service connections, giving rise to suspicions of wider use.
Among them was John’s “office” – a garden-style timber building on his 130-acre Woodland Forestry Ltd site.
The 65-year-old says he does not know how any rules have been broken, as the structure is a working forestry facility used by his woodland manager to take shelter from the elements and do administration.
John, who runs Halsion Building Services, claims he wrote to the authority in March to explain what he was doing, but never heard back.
He told KentOnline: “Nobody ever came back to me or visited the site and now, out of the blue, I’ve been served with an enforcement notice.
“I may run a construction company, but there is absolutely no construction going to happen on this land.”
The council clampdown follows a campaign by Watch Over Adisham Woods, which fears illegal works and uses in the area have been going on.
Members complained to the authority that they suspected construction work had been undertaken beyond that allowed by forestry planning rules.
And John has also been told to get rid of a steel container which is discreetly located and needed to securely store tools and equipment.
He continued: “The only ‘buildings’ we have are a mobile timber chalet for Lee to work from – needed by employment law for his health and wellbeing – and secure storage for our tools.
“The so-called building materials are actually sacks used to store tree protection materials and hose piping for irrigation.
“And we haven’t laid any hardstanding or tarmac roads.
“The only reason we have put up fencing is to protect the young trees and allow grazing in the future, which is good for land management.”
In all, John has spent £300,000 creating the woodland, on top of more than £1 million he paid for the land.
And he says he bought the plot because he is passionate about preserving and enhancing the area.
“That is exactly what we are doing here,” John added.
“We are working with Natural England. Our aim is to link up areas to the surrounding ancient woodland and create corridors for wildlife.
“Eventually I plan to create a trust for this woodland so it is protected after I am gone, and even have guided nature tours in the future.
“It’s a dream job for me to be working outside and helping to create woodland and meadows for wildlife.
“I just cannot see what we are doing wrong when we are actually enhancing what used to be arable farmland treated with pesticides.”
The owners reprimanded by the council had notified the authority that buildings were being erected to “support forestry management”.
However, the notices issued state the structures and associated works have resulted in “undesirable, sporadic development to the amenities of the countryside which is not justified”.
Planning officers also say there has been an “urbanisation” of the ancient woodland.
They add that the “inappropriate” developments are causing “significant harm to the character and appearance of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty”.
But John says he is baffled by the authority’s decision to punish him, and does not understand how his forestry work can be put in that category.
He said: “The council has even apologised that it did not see my emailed reply back in March, but says it cannot withdraw the enforcement notice,” he stated.
“It looks like I will have to go through the whole expensive process of an appeal.”
Responding to Mr Horton’s concerns, city council spokesman Rob Davies said: “We are aware of Mr Horton’s concerns over the enforcement notice, but are satisfied it has been correctly issued.
“Mr Horton has been advised that he can either comply with the requirements of the notice or appeal against it.”
Story Credit: thesun.co.uk