THE owner of a Hale Barns wedding venue has been fined £15,000 after failing to remove a marquee – for which he didn’t have planning permission – for five years.
Mohammed Isaq, 54, who owns and lives in Davenport Green Hall, on Shay Lane, was ordered to pay a £15,000 fine and £20,000 in court costs at Trafford Magistrate’s Court on Monday, January 27.
He had been found guilty of failing to comply with a planning enforcement notice at an earlier hearing.
District judge Paul Richardson was shown photographic evidence that the marquee is now being pulled down and Mr Richardson said he gave him credit for that, although he felt Mr Isaq had deliberately waited until after the busy Christmas period.
Mr Isaq bought Davenport Green Hall in 2007 and erected the marquee in 2008.
He was first served with the enforcement notice in July 2010.
Mr Isaq then launched an appeal, which was heard at a four day public inquiry in April 2011 and dismissed by a planning inspector.
He then tried to challenge the inspector's decision in the High Court, that challenge was also dismissed in October 2011.
Mr Isaq then sought to challenge the High Court's decision in the Court of Appeal, this also failed in May 2012.
Trafford Council started the prosecution for failure to comply with the enforcement notice in February 2013, but Mr Isaq still did not pull the marquee down.
Counsel for Trafford Council, Ian Ponter, said it was very difficult to accurately determine Mr Isaq’s personal income, but from unaudited accounts he had been provided with, he could determine that Davenport Green Hall Ltd and another wedding venue he owns, Haslington Hall Ltd, pay rent to Mr Isaq as the landowner.
Mr Ponter stated that Mr Isaq had received around £1 million in rent from both properties between mid 2007 and September 2013.
Mr Richardson said while the fine imposed would take into account the amount Mr Isaq had gained from his unlawful actions, this would only take effect from May 2012, when his final appeal failed.
“I don’t think it would be fair to take it from the very outset, there were procedures he was entitled to go through,” said Mr Richardson.
Although Mr Richardson advised him against doing so, Mr Isaq insisted on giving evidence in his own defence.
Mr Isaq said his business was not viable without a marquee and he has had a very difficult January as he had lost many bookings and had to return deposits.
He said he now wants to erect a new temporary marquee, with planning permission.
Mr Richardson said a very simple issue had become very time-consuming and complicated and Mr Isaq appeared to have deliberately delayed proceedings.
“You’re here because due process was gone though, you lost, an enforcement notice was required, it shouldn’t have been,” said Mr Richardson.
“And now you continue not to comply with it and that’s a criminal offence.”