Uckfield construction firm loses appeal against £2,500 surcharge

An Uckfield construction company has lost an appeal against a surcharge of £2,500 – plus interest – from Wealden Council for starting work on a development without notifying them.

Government planning inspector Ken McEntee said it was Stuart Goldsmith’s responsibility to ensure a Commencement Notice was submitted to the council, and it was clear there was a breach of Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations.

The case related to a development of four homes west of Ridgewood Manor Lodge, Lewes Road, Ridgewood, which was subject to a Community Infrastructure Levy.

The access to the Ridgewood Manor Lodge development in Lewes Road, Ridgewood.

The planning inspector said much of the case put forward by the appellant concerned communications with the council over whether the Community Infrastucture Levy would be deferred and its lack of response.

He said this was not something within his remit to consider but, if the appellant was not happy with the council’s conduct, or procedures, he could make a complaint through the council’s complaints process.

The inspector said Mr Goldsmith accepted a Commencement Notice was not submitted said this was because his agent wasn’t available to do so on his behalf due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

Sympathy

The inspector said: “While have sympathy with the appellant and fully understand the difficulties the Covid-19 pandemic has caused, it was ultimately his responsibility to ensure a Commencement Notice (CN) was submitted before starting works on the chargeable development.

’The liability notice, issued on January 20, 2020, makes clear that a CN must be submitted before works can begin on the chargeable development and warns of the potential consequences of failing to do so.

Risky strategy

“However, notwithstanding there was a problem with his agent’s availability, the appellant chose to press ahead with the development without ensuring that a CN had been submitted.

“I take the view that this was a risky strategy for the appellant to take. In these circumstances, I have no option but to dismiss the appeal as it is clear the alleged breach occurred.

“For the reasons given above, the appeal is dismissed and the surcharge of £2,500, plus interest, is upheld.”

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