Clear site or face jail, planning law rogue is ordered

THE owner of a “makeshift business park”, who was previously handed a record quarter-of-a-million pound planning fine for his illegal development, has been given a month to clear the site or face jail.

Following a prosecution by Doncaster Council, the High Court in London sentenced Nigel Smith to a year’s imprisonment, suspended on the provision that he does not leave as much as a “granule of hardcore” on the site.

This is the latest in a string of court appearances for 57-year-old Smith, also known as Nigel Weston-Smith, who has been running a “makeshift business park and residential site” on land he occupies off Moss Road in Moss.

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In 2009, he brought a residential caravan to the rural Manor Farm site and then added portable offices for businesses and several shipping storage containers – without planning permission.

Doncaster Council served an enforcement notice, which Smith appealed. The appeal was upheld in the council’s favour.

When Smith failed to comply with the notice, Doncaster Council took him to court in November 2011. He was fined £2,000.

Despite this, Smith carried on operating at Manor Farm in what council officials describe as “continued contravention of the enforcement notice”.

In January this year, Smith pleaded guilty at Sheffield Crown Court to the offence of breaching an enforcement notice.

He was fined £250,000 plus costs – the biggest planning fine in Doncaster within living memory, and one of the biggest in the UK.

Despite being ordered to clear the site, Smith has still failed to do so.

He has now appeared before the High Court in London where he was handed a one-year sentence, suspended for 28 days on the proviso that he clears the site within 28 days.

Sentencing him, Judge Richard Seymour QC said: “Possibly against my better judgment, I am minded to accept that, when Mr Smith says that he now at last intends to comply with the order of the judge, he actually means it.

“Although I am entirely satisfied that his contemptuous approach to the order richly merited a sentence of imprisonment of 12 months, I am going to suspend it for 28 days to allow Mr Smith to do that which he has professed he now at last intends to do.”