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A person living in a caravan, unlawful storage containers and bonfires are just some of the issues found to be taking place at a Shoebury storage yard.
Councillors on Southend’s Development Committee met on Wednesday afternoon and unanimously agreed to a raft of enforcement actions and new regulations in an effort to curb the unlawful activity taking place at 39 Vanguard Way.
The site was once a social club but it was later demolished and transformed into a large storage yard. Since then, council documents show that complaints have poured in about unauthorised work taking place dating as far back as August 2017 when a metal fence was built without planning permission.
This has now escalated to include concerns about a person living on the site in a caravan, the illegal addition of metal storage shed and storage for scaffolding.
At the meeting, Independent councillor Anne Chalk said: “What amazes me is this has been allowed to go on for so long, they have been blatant in abusing the situation.”
A council officer acknowledged that is may appear as though the people using the site had “been allowed to do what they want” but explained the council had hoped to resolve the situation by communicating with the owner of the site. This failed to lead to any changes.
In a report published by the council’s planning team said ahead of the meeting that there has been a “persistent pattern of breaches” and the owner of the site has “shown little or no regard for the amenity of local residents”.
They added: “Efforts to bring these ongoing breaches under control by regular contact with the site owner have not resulted in any improvement in the situation.
“Rather the original breaches of conditions have continued and new breaches, including further unauthorised operational development, have been identified.
“These are exacerbating the harm to the amenity of nearby residents.”
The enforcement actions agreed by councillors include telling the site owner to remove unauthorised containers and shelters, stop using the site for “overnight residential use” and stop holding bonfires.
The site will also no longer be able to be used as a commercial storage yard until an acoustic fence has been raised which will minimise the impact of noise on neighbours.