Central Bedfordshire Council news and press releases

Biggleswade self-storage company fined for breaking planning rules

Wednesday, 6 July 2022

A landowner and 2 directors of self-storage company ‘Contain-it-4U Ltd’ in Biggleswade have been fined more than £2,100.

We issued the fine because these individuals failed to comply with our enforcement notice for running a business without planning consent.

The case was heard at Luton Magistrates Court on Friday 24 June 2022, with all three individuals (landowner Lewis McEwan and company directors Roger Buckley and James McCabe) entering a guilty plea. They were each fined £293, ordered to pay our costs of £1,171.89 (split three ways) and a victim surcharge each of £34, making the total cost of the offence £2,152.89.

In late 2018, we received complaints that shipping containers had been brought onto a decommissioned gas works site at the rear of St Johns Street, Biggleswade.

Following a visit from one of our planning enforcement officers, where attempts were made to resolve the issue informally, the shipping containers were not removed. In August 2019, the landowner and directors were served with an enforcement notice. This required them to cease the unauthorised use and remove the storage containers from the land.

The enforcement notice was appealed; however, the Planning Inspectorate dismissed the appeal, upholding our enforcement notice. The business was informed it had until the end of February 2021 to remove the containers and stop using the site as a self-storage business, but it did not comply. The landowner and directors were therefore prosecuted for the offence of failing to comply with our enforcement notice.

Councillor Kevin Collins, our Executive Member for Planning and Regeneration, said:

We can only use our enforcement powers where it is considered expedient to do so, but we will take action where something is causing real harm.

This case is a clear example of an unauthorised activity where, when informal engagement has not been successful, we have pursued legal action and prosecuted those responsible.

As of June 2022, the site is no longer being used for self-storage and all shipping containers have been now removed. This case has been impacted by COVID-19, with implications for the way the team had to investigate during periods of restrictions and national lockdowns and latterly courts working through a backlog of criminal cases.