Developer hands over £180,000 for homes in Fareham after court threat

A DEVELOPER has coughed up nearly £180,000 after a council threatened court action.

Monday, 31st December 2018, 8:54 am
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 11:16 am
Fareham Borough Council offices

Knightsgate (UK) Ltd owed the cash for a levy linked to three developments in Fareham borough.

When the cash was not paid on time Fareham Borough Council issued proceedings through Portsmouth Magistrates' Court.

But just a few days before a planned hearing the developer, in Botley Road, Park Gate, paid up in full.

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Retired teacher Chris Wilkinson, 63, has been in a pitched battle with other developers as part of her work in the Conserving Habitats in Portchester group.

The campaigner said: '˜The council should stand their ground more and be firm with these companies if they set a target and say they have to do something they should enforce it.

'˜At least if they're going to court that's something it's a nod to others not to do the same.'

Knightsbridge had been due in court on Monday for non-payment of a community infrastructure levy linked to three developments, at 411 Hunts Pond Road, 20 Church Road, Warsash, and at Windward, 3 Solent Drive, Warsash.

Fareham council said it was '˜rare' to start legal proceedings and this only happens after a notice is sent to the developer outlining how much needs to be paid, followed by a demand notice and then reminders with interest added on top. Only then court proceedings are started.

Alex Harper, from Knightsbridge, said: '˜The only reason it was paid late - it was an oversight with the council. They didn't inform us until quite a way down the road.

'˜I don't think houses should actually complete without it paid - we had completions and sales. No-one flagged it up.'

He added: '˜The minute we got the summons we paid it. That's the process they have to do.'

The levy is put on developments, with firms building properties ordered to pay up cash to help fund roads, schools and other infrastructure.

Enforcement is carried out with a reminder notice first, with councils able to apply to magistrates' courts for a liability order. That would give authorities permission to seize or sell the developer's assets to pay for the levy.

Councillor Nick Walker, chairman of the planning committee at the borough council, said: '˜Fareham Borough Council made an application to the magistrates' courts in relation to outstanding community infrastructure levy payments due from developers Knightsgate UK Ltd.

'˜However, in order to avoid legal action being taken, the developer paid the amount owed in full to the council prior to the scheduled court date and as a result the council has withdrawn its application to the court.'

It comes after Persimmon Homes was accused of not sticking to planning permission conditions in clearing mud from a development at Cranleigh Road in Portchester earlier this year.

The developer said it had, but extreme temperature was making clearing up difficult.

'˜There's a genuine atmosphere that developers think they can get away with it,' Chris added.