Housing developed fined £2.5k after refusing to plant trees and hedges on Rugby development

The planting works were part of the planning permission agreement
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A housing developer who ignored a legal notice to complete tree and hedge planting work at new homes built in Rugby has been fined £2,500.

Mark Fitzpatrick, managing director of the Solihull-based Fitzpatrick Group, was prosecuted by Rugby Borough Council after repeated requests for the work at Grace Close to be completed were ignored.

Planning permission for the seven-home development on land behind the Crow Pie pub in Bilton Road was granted by the council in November 2017.

One of the conditions of the planning permission required tree and hedge planting to take place when the homes were finished.

But in February 2019 the council received a complaint alleging the work had not been carried out.

Planning enforcement officers held a meeting with Mr Fitzpatrick on site and a deadline of the end of June was given to finish the landscaping.

A planning enforcement officer inspected the site in August to the find the deadline had been ignored, with a letter sent to Fitzpatrick warning he faced being issued with a breach of condition notice if the work was not completed within 28 days.

In February 2021, a further inspection found the landscaping work had still not been carried out, with a skip and other building materials and equipment being stored on land earmarked for tree and hedge planting.

The council served a breach of condition notice on Fitzpatrick the following month, giving him 28 days to complete the work.

But when the notice was ignored, the council took the case to court.

Fitzpatrick failed to respond to the court and was found guilty in his absence of breaching the condition notice, an offence under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

The conditions breached were the requirement to complete the landscaping work and the need to complete the development in accordance with the approved plans.

The magistrate who considered the case at Warwickshire Justice Centre under the single justice procedure issued Fitzpatrick with a £2,500 fine.

He was also ordered to pay the council's costs, £487, and a victim surcharge of £190.

Cllr Jill Simpson-Vince, Rugby Borough Council portfolio holder for growth and investment, welcomed the court's decision.

She said: "Conditions attached to planning permissions give the council the flexibility to approve applications while ensuring applicants comply with certain obligations and restrictions.

"Applicants cannot pick and choose which conditions to comply with, and our planning enforcement team investigates all suspected breaches and, when necessary, uses the legal powers at our disposal."

Residents can report suspected breaches of planning permission by calling (01788) 533533 or via the council's website: www.rugby.gov.uk/reportaproblem