Man fined £18,000 for building illegal riverside shed and refusing to demolish it

A man who refused to take down his illegal riverside shed has been ordered to pay £18,000.

Simon Courtney-Worthy, 63, failed to remove his shed and timber decking despite him receiving two warnings to demolish it, remove all of the materials and regrass the area.

Instead, he claimed he had only done good work to improve the area and nearby waterway, having regularly cleared the land to the local weir to prevent obstructions and flooding.

He also tried to maintain that the site had long been used as mooring and there was stuff on the land.

Pictures show the wooden structure nestled within the trees with a wooden decking extending towards the bank with a ‘river view.’

He was found to be in breach of planning control and causing harm to a conservation area at the site in Long Wittenham, Oxfordshire.

South Oxfordshire District Council issued an enforcement notice to Courtney-Worthy in January 2019.

One notice was sent to Courtney-Worthy with a deadline of September 1 that year but he failed to comply.

He also failed to comply to further notices sent between September 2 and February 17 the following year.

Another notice was issued on that same date asking him to stop using the land for mooring a boat for residential purposes , storage and garden and to remove the boat.

The overall case centred on a change of use and development on land by the banks of the River Thames at Long Wittenham.

It was found to be a breach of planning control, causing harm to a conservation area.

Courtney-Worthy was ordered to pay more than £5,000 in costs towards South Oxfordshire District Council, which brought the prosecution.

He failed to make appeals against the reasons for the issue of the notices or against their requirements.

Appearing at Oxford Magistrates’ Court on July 28, Courtney-Worthy pleaded guilty of two counts of failing to comply with an enforcement notice.

In passing sentence, the District Judge said the culpability was high and the harm great and agreed that Courtney-Worthy had a “cavalier” approach to this matter.

Cllr Anne-Marie Simpson, cabinet member for planning at South Oxfordshire District Council, commented on the case.

“As a council, we have a duty to ensure developments are in line with the latest planning law guidance and regulations and the details of any planning permission we have granted,” she said.

“We try to work positively and constructively with anyone responsible for a breach but this case shows that we are also not afraid to take to court those who are unwilling to work with us.”

Courtney-Worthy was fined a total of £13,000 for the two counts.

The District Judge awarded the council costs of £5,511 and imposed a victim surcharge of £181 to be paid within four months.