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Untidy Land

Medway Councils Environmental Enforcement Team deal with Untidy Landenquiries relating to untidy land.

From a community point of view, tidy gardens and land mean an area looks well cared for making people feel safe in that neighbourhood. If untidy sites are left, they become worse and the area starts to feel neglected and unsafe. Untidy sites are rarely dangerous to public health but they will be an eyesore, which means it is detrimental to the local amenity.

The condition of certain buildings or land often causes serious harm to the visual amenity of an area. Should the Local Planning Authority consider it appropriate to do so they may serve on the owner and occupier a Notice under Section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1990.

However establishing the legal owner is not always easy, many landowners live outside the Borough and the Land Registry, which provides details of ownership does not always contain all the relevant information, such as short leases. Some landowners, for various reasons, simply do not want to be found.

Once the owner has been located, the first written warning is issued. This normally gives the recipient a period of twenty eight days to submit confirmation that the required works will take place along with a start date. If that is ignored, a second stronger warning is issued. No more than two warnings are given prior to enforcement action being taken.

If the warnings are not heeded, or works fail to commence on time, an enforcement notice is issued

This notice is used to maintain and improve the quality of the environment, to assist in tackling dereliction and retaining land in a productive use as well as contribute to the regeneration of an area and respond positively to public concerns.

Many of the problems of untidy land and buildings are relatively easy to put right for example:

  1. Build up of household waste, refuse bags, white goods, litter and detritus,
  2. dilapidated walls / broken windows / graffiti,                        
  3. land with fly tipping, industrial or demolition waste,
  4. builders rubble,
  5. dumped sofas/furniture,
  6. abandoned vehicles,
  7. dumped tyres or
  8. overgrown gardens.

A notice can be served on the owner or occupier of any private land or building which is in an unreasonably untidy condition and which the council consider has an adverse affect on the amenity of the area.

The Notice will specify what needs to be done to correct the situation within a given timescale. It is an offence not to comply with the notice within the specified period. If the requirements of the notice are not carried out in the required timescale the landowner could be fined and have a criminal record

There is a right of appeal against a notice issued under this section to the Magistrates Court. Failure to comply with the requirements of the notice constitutes a criminal offence subject on conviction to a fine not exceeding £1000.

The council is also empowered to enter land to carry out the works specified in the notice and reclaim costs from the land owner – usually by means of a land charge on the land or property.

To report untidy land please call 01634 333333 or use our online contact form.