TAXPAYERS could have to foot the bill for a legal battle as council leaders prepare to take a long-standing row over a holiday park to the courts.
The move is the latest in a row over the rights of chalet owners to live all year round at Solent Breezes holiday park in Warsash.
Three residents thought they had won last month when an inspector backed their appeals against enforcement notices served on them by Fareham Borough Council last June.
The council wants to enforce planning regulations which prevent most of the chalet owners living on the site at weekends between November and February each year.
An application has been lodged with the High Court and the council must now wait to hear if it will be allowed to challenge the appeal decisions.
Councillor Sean Woodward, leader of the council, defended the decision to contest the appeal, and said: ‘Whilst the council recognises that a small proportion of chalets at the site can lawfully be occupied all year round, the majority of the chalets cannot. Fareham Borough Council believes that this site which is some distance from employment, shopping, community and other facilities is not an appropriate location for permanent residential development.
‘It is also important that the character of the site as one of a holiday park is retained.’
But Harry Weaver, chairman of the chalet owners’ association, said residents had hoped the inspector’s decision would end the feud.
He said: ‘Everybody here is shocked that the council has gone this far with the whole thing.
‘All of these residents pay their full council tax and now that tax is going to be used in a costly legal battle against them.
‘The cost of hearing a High Court case when there are all these cuts going on, it’s crazy. The residents are looking at legal advice on what to do next.’
In his report, independent planning inspector Colin Thompson acknowledged his decisions could ‘set a precedent for other permanent residential uses within the holiday village’.
A further inquiry was held on Tuesday relating to a fourth chalet bidding to overturn the enforcement notice.